The Jourdanton Squaw softball team is hoping to pick up where they left off in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Jourdanton was coming off a 21-9 season in 2019 and their eighth straight bi-district win. Things looked promising for Jourdanton before the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a screeching halt.
In 2021, with the loss of standouts Allie Touchstone and Allie and Lexi Wheeler to graduation, Jourdanton hopes this group of three seniors step up to fill their leadership role.
“It’s very crucial because there have only been two seniors that have been on varsity since our freshman year,” said senior utility player Bailey Lemes. “We’ve always watched the leadership as it is. We want to keep going with what they had and build more so the younger girls will know what to expect when they move up.”
Former Jourdanton standout Jessica Vrana was also promoted to Head Coach during the offseason after Lexi Smith departed to take an assistant coaching position at Southwestern University.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Vrana said. “I’m very privileged to have this opportunity to coach at my alma mater. It just hits home a little more and makes me want to be better for them and for the program.”
Vrana, who played college softball at Schreiner University, brings multilevel continuity to the program. She and Smith, a former pitcher for Texas A&M, saw eye-to-eye a lot when it came to game planning.
“Me and [Lexi] saw eyeto eye on a ton of things,” Vrana said, “especially with our experiences in college. We both agreed that basics and foundation were going to be huge parts of the program. So, I think that’s gonna continue into this year. A lot of the standards we held last year are a lot of the standards I want as a Head Coach.”
Vrana can also relate to the players as a product of the Jourdanton softball program. That continuity provides a sense of confidence and excitement to the Jourdanton players.
“It’s honestly so exciting because she came from our school and she knows what’s expected of us on the field,” Lemes said. “Having her just sets an example for us; she’s played for us, we want to do what she did.”
The 2020 team had high expectations. This year, the team, which features nine sophomores and eight freshmen, is eager to get back on the field after having the season cut short a year ago.
“I feel [the expectations] are a lot higher because there’s so many girls on our team that want to go to the playoffs because they’ve never been,” Lemes said. “The excitement is wonderful; it’s something you can’t imagine.
Jourdanton’s season opener at state-ranked Shiner was canceled on Monday. The Squaws are scheduled to face Center Point on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 5 p.m.