Princeton earns preseason honor

Thursday, February 03, 2011

 Selected as top team in Class 3A by the TGCA

By David Jenkins
Staff Writer
The Lady Panthers have advanced to the Class 3A Region II semifinals the previous two seasons.
In 2009 they fell to Celina in a one-game series and the following year they were defeated by eventual state champion Paris North Lamar in a best-of-three series in consecutive games.
According to the Texas Girls Coaches Association the Lady Panthers should build on that success during the upcoming season.
The TGCA tabbed Princeton as the No. 1 team in 3A in their yearly Top 10 preseason rankings.
Head coach Craig Deputy said, “It (being state-ranked) definitely means that teams will be coming after us. We will have a large target on our backs. Everyone wants to beat the No. 1 team. I know we have lots of talent and our players are ready to get out on the field and prove themselves.”
Rounding out the rankings were Celina, Liberty Hill, Splendora, first-year varsity program North Forney, Bandera, Paris North Lamar, West, Lindale and Giddings.
Last year the Lady Panthers finished 12th in the final state rankings. The highest the team had reached prior to that was seventh.
The Lady Panthers went 25-6 overall and for the second consecutive season shared the District 13-3A title with Lovejoy.
During the playoffs they captured the bi-district (16-6 over Wills Point), area (11-5 over Pittsburg) and regional quarterfinal (8-4, 1-2 and 6-1 over then No. 1 Van) titles.
In the upcoming campaign the Lady Panthers are set to return six of the nine starters from 2010.
Gone are Trinity Valley Community College pitcher Shelby Ballenger, and outfielders Casey Wisnefski and Samantha Montalvo.
They, however, return a load of talent, which consist of NCAA Div. I softball signees Jordan Strickland (Baylor University), Chanin Naudin (University of Kansas) and Janine Godwin (Louisiana Tech), Presley Stanley, Chele Naudin, Katie Craig and Sierra Johnson.
In addition to added support from newcomers Beatriz Beltran and Kaylee Strickland, who is the younger sister of Jordan Strickland.
Taking over in the pitching circle will be the Lady Panthers former junior varsity starter Katie McMullen, who replaces multiple all-district award winner Ballenger.
The Lady Panthers will compete in 11-3A, which features first-year varsity program  Frisco Lone Star, Prosper (previously of 9-3A), and old 13-3A opponents Community, Lovejoy and Farmersville.
Princeton’s first scrimmage was Feb. 1 at Paris and the predistrict season opens on the road Feb. 14 against state-ranked Sherman.
The Lady Bearcats are No. 6 in the 4A Top 10 preseason poll.
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