Coronado softball has become synonymous with winning on the South Plains over a stretch of 22 years.
This season holds its own challenges with a minimal amount of varsity returners and a reconstructing of the coaching staff, but veteran athletes are stepping up to keep Coronado’s tradition alive.
Lady Mustangs senior second baseman Stonie Carrillo will be one of the key athletes after three years on varsity and three district titles to her name. It’s just a matter of coming together as a team.
“I work really well with them,” Carrillo said. “Once we bond with each other, we just feel like a team in every single thing that we do. I feel like our team (will) play really well. They have been with each other through the summer, and we are going to come (prepared) into the season.”
Carrillo was a junior in former head coach J.J. Johnson’s last season at the helm as he guided the Lady Mustangs to their 22nd consecutive district title.
Carrillo and company went 10-0 in league play a season ago and advanced to the regional quarterfinals, which came as no surprise — it’s the culture and expectation coming out of Coronado High School.
The Lady Mustangs’ key to success is no secret to any team. Simply, they rely on harmony.
“Honestly, it’s my team,” Carrillo said. “They have always had me and I feel like they’ve built me up to be the player that I am today. It all comes with the coaching staff and my team being there for me.”
Nancy Sawyers will take over as head coach of the program after serving as a Lady Mustangs assistant coach for the last five years.
She has seen the success and knows what it will take to keep the legacy going.
“I’ve had the enjoyment of watching it as an assistant’s perspective and to see what all goes into helping these kids be there best,” Sawyers said. “Every day is a battle. Every day, you are working hard to try to put your best effort into your practices so that is reflected at game time.”
There is still the issue of filling holes across the diamond, but that has never seemed to be a problem in the past.
“Right now we are in the process of filling positions, and I feel like at this point we’ve clicked where we are,” senior Zoey Garcia said. “I feel like it’s going to be a really good season and we will be pretty prepared.”
Coronado won’t have to worry about second base or short stop.
Carillo will reprise her role at second base and posted a .946 fielding percentage while not committing an error in district play a season ago en route to being named the District 4-5A defensive MVP. She also hit .528, recorded 40 RBIs and scored 54 runs.
Lady Mustangs junior Lea Garcia, who was the first freshman to start at shortstop for Johnson, was described as having exceptional range and arm strength. She hit .463 at the plate, tallied 38 RBIs and scored 67 runs.
“I definitely think that defense is going to be our strength with a lot of returners on the infield and in the outfield,” Sawyers said. “We are looking to have that as our focal point and bring us through some games.”
Carrillo and Garcia are just a few of the players Coronado will lean on with an expectation to bring home a 23rd straight district title.
The Lady Mustangs start their season against Odessa Permian at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’m excited about how we are looking,” Lady Mustangs senior right fielder Amanda Mendez said. “We are working really hard on getting there, where we are supposed to be.”