2022 Public School Softball Sleepers

Welcome to the 2022 softball season.

The season kicked off this week with out-of-district games starting across the city. VYPE screened 22 public school teams around the city. These squads are considered the sleepers of the city. The ones people might sleep on early in the season.

Check out season previews for Pearland, Fort Bend Travis, Langham Creek, Tompkins, Bellaire and Friendswood softball teams.

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17. Pearland Oil Tankers

The team motto for 2022 for Pearland is “Tradition”. That’s fitting, given their program history and the coach at the end of the dugout. Laneigh Clark has been around the game and has just been a winner. Clark enters the season with an overall practice record of 614-212-3 and in his 24th year in charge of the Oilers. With seven returning starters, the Oilers should be ready for a playoff run. The group is led by Texas A&M signee Hailey Golden and UT Arlington signee Alaina Hampton. Other key returns include Alayna Calvillo (Blinn College), Katelyn Carpenter (Louisiana College), Kristyn Whitlock, Abigail Gutierrez, Darian Deleon, Raenna Liscano and Kennedy Drafton. The keys to success in 2022 include “pitching, team leadership and the ability to score points” according to Clark.

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18. Fort Bend Travis Tigers

Fort Bend Travis took over ownership of District 20-6A, knocking Ridge Point out of the top spot. Can the Tigers hold their own against the Panthers in 2022? Led by Florida signee Ariel Kowalewski, the district’s reigning MVP, the Tigers could once again be in contention for that title. Other key returns for Fort Bend Travis include first-team all-district pick Kennedy Clark and second-team pick Maddie Morris. Other names to consider include Kacy Perkins, Elle Smith and Lauryn Garza. Circle the nights when FB Travis and Ridge Point collide, as those will most likely determine the District’s supremacy in 2022. Last year marked the program’s first time in the playoffs since 2019 and they qualified for the regional quarter-finals. If they can put it together, it could be a historic season.

19. Langham Creek Lobos

Langham Creek could be in store for a big year in District 16-6A and beyond. The Lobos finished fourth a year ago and had an early exit in the playoffs, but they have nine returning starters from this team. The group is led by seniors Alli Hughes (St. Thomas) and Miranda Soileau (McMurray University). Hughes was a first-team all-district pick last year after hitting .357 overall. Emily Simmons and Kasey Simmons, who both hit over .450 in district play, are other returning first-team members. Second teams Lauren Cox, Cassidy Luza and Sydney McReynolds also return. Five of the nine returning starters have two years of college experience under their belts, making them a relatively veteran unit. The team motto of 19th-year head coach Michele Biffle (who has been coaching for 29 years) is “It starts with me and it ends with us”. Now let’s see if they can make a playoff run!

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20. Falcons by Katy Tompkins

In a talent-laden district, there’s a chance Katy Tompkins will make some noise in 2022. The Falcons are looking to make the playoffs and then race after falling to Ridge Point in a three-game series in the bi – district a year ago. In 2019, the Falcons reached the fourth round, which is the deepest postseason run in program history. Morgan Brown, the 19-6A reigning district offensive MVP, is back for the Falcons. First-team all-district Ashley Martinec will also return to the circle. Other names to consider include Kennedy Bourque, Blakely Haynie and Tauryn Alexander.

OTW: Cardinals of Bellaire

Bellaire is led by one of Houston’s softball deans in Bren Tuffly. The Cardinals head coach is entering the 25th year at the helm of the program, which was his only stage as head coach. Tuffly enters the season with 603 career wins. Bellaire is coming off a 20-10 season in which they fell in the regional round of the playoffs. Six starters return to the dugout, including Bossier Parrish CC signer Rylee Glenn. Other key names to remember include Anahi Medrano and Claire Shelley for the Cardinals.

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OTW: Friendswood Mustangs

Friendswood has reached at least the third round of the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. It comes after a nine-year drought without having made a race like this. Last season, the Mustangs won the district title and reached the regional semifinals. Heading into 2022, Friendswood, under reigning District 22-5A Coach of the Year Christa Yates, is bringing back players like District MVP Pitcher Chloe Riasseto, who was 8- 2 with a 1.46 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 13 walks in 2021. Other key returns to the stable include first team, all district selection Janelle Wilson, second team Lainie Schaefer and the Madelyn Wilson honorable mention selection from a year ago. Janelle returns as team leader for batting average from a year ago, hitting .343 with 16 RBIs and adds another arm in the circle after going 9-3 with a 2 ERA ,16 and 101 strikeouts. This team could leap and rise through the ranks by the end of the season.

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