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Douglas softball team hopes to build on last year’s success

by Chuck Smock

With only one senior on the roster and a first-year head coach, the Douglas softball team wasn’t expected to make a lot of noise in Northern 4A play last year.

In fact, when the Tigers finished third at the Zone tournament and earned a trip to State, the tickets they received for the flight to Las Vegas were smeared with white-out to cover the name of another team.

The Douglas girls, who were seeded sixth at Zone, opened some eyes with back-to-back wins over Reno and Reed in loser-out games to secure third place.

Ken Carr enters his second season as the Tigers’ head coach in a much different position than a year ago. Twelve of his 13 players have state-tournament experience and 10 of those have extensive varsity experience.

And he’s well aware of the fact that the Region schedule is full of teams that will remember what the Tigers accomplished last May.

“The girls know that living up to last year’s standard isn’t going to be easy,” Carr said. “We won’t sneak up on anyone.

“Our goal is to get back to state and to do some damage. The girls got a taste of state. They want to go back. They know the caliber of ball and they know they can compete.”

Junior Kizer returns as an assistant coach for the Tigers.

Kristi Wheeler, a former Douglas softball star who helped Mesa State College (Colo.) advance to the Division II College World Series last spring, is entering her first year as assistant coach at DHS.

“As far as softball knowledge, with those two coaches we’re pretty well set,” Carr said.

The Tigers will open the season with a scrimmage at Carson High next Wednesday. They play in the Hug tournament next weekend.

Tuesday may have been the first day the 13 varsity players practiced as a team, but many of Tigers have been preparing for the upcoming softball season since late December.

“The girls have been doing preseason workouts since Christmas break,” Carr said. “And the basketball players came out as soon as their season ended. They’ve all been working really hard.

“They knew, especially with the kids coming into the program, it (tryouts) was going to be competitive. There’s a lot of talent in the Valley.”