Photo by Victor Tapia
Lady Panther Chanin Naudin returns
to call pitches behind the ball in her
Six starters back for 2011 campaign
By David Jenkins
The Lady Panthers have advanced to the Class 3A Region II semifinals the last two seasons.
In 2009, they fell to Celina in a one-game series, and last year they were swept by eventual state champion Paris North Lamar in a best-of-three regional semifinal series.
The Lady Panthers went 25-6 overall in 2010, and for the second consecutive season they shared the District 13-3A title with Lovejoy.
During the playoffs they captured the bi-district title (16-6 over Wills Point), area crown (11-5 over Pittsburg) and regional quarterfinal championship (8-4, 1-2 and 6-1 over then No. 1 Van).
They’ll look to advance even further this season. That task should be made easier by the return of six players from last year’s starting lineup.
Head coach Craig Deputy said, “We must never look back, but keep moving full speed ahead.”
Back in the mix are NCAA Div. I softball signees Jordan Strickland (Baylor University in Waco), Chanin Naudin (University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.) and Janine Godwin (Louisiana Tech University in Rustin, La.), Presley Stanley, Chele Naudin, Katie Craig and Sierra Johnson.
In addition, there will be added support from newcomers Beatriz Beltran and Kaylee Strickland, the younger sister of Jordan Strickland.
Taking over in the pitching circle will be former junior varsity starter Katie McMullen.
Deputy said, “We are extremely talented. We should be very competitive if we keep our focus.”
Gone are Trinity Valley Community College pitcher Shelby Ballenger, and outfielders Casey Wisnefski and Samantha Montalvo.
This year’s squad will be challenged in the loaded District 11-3A, which consists of first-year varsity program Frisco Lone Star, Prosper, and old foes Community, Lovejoy and Farmersville.
Deputy said, “We are excited about the chance to compete with new teams, new players and new coaches.”
They enter the season No. 3 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association preseason 3A Top 10. In the initial poll they were picked first.
In the top two were Celina and Liberty Hill. Rounding out the top 10 were Splendora, Bandera, defending 3A state champion Paris North Lamar, West, North Forney, 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.
Princeton opened the predistrict Feb. 14 at 4A No. 6 state-ranked Sherman. Rankings are from the TGCA preseason Top 10.
They remain on the road Friday against Crandall. The junior varsity game is scheduled for 5 p.m., and varsity is at 6:30 p.m.
Games remaining on the predistrict slate are versus Royse City (Feb. 21), at Paris North Lamar (March 1) and Bonham (March 7), and versus Decatur (March 11) and Carrollton Ranchview (March 12 for varsity only).
Princeton will also compete in the Tournament of Champions (Feb. 24-26 at Carrollton’s Oran Good Park) and the McKinney ISD Tournament (March 4-6 at the Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney).
Both tournaments will be made up of 4A and 5A programs.
The Lady Panthers open 11-3A play March 15 with Frisco Lone Star (for varsity only at 6 p.m). That’s followed by games at Community (March 18), with Farmersville (March 22) and Lovejoy (March 25), and at Prosper (March 29).
They hit the road April 1 for Frisco Lone Star (for varsity only at 6 p.m.) to open the second half of district play. The remaining contests are with Community (April 5), at Farmersville (April 8) and Lovejoy (April 12) and against Prosper (April 15).
Games times for JV are 5 p.m., and varsity follows at 6:30 p.m.