SOFTBALL: OLLU draws from East Central and Southwest to continue its success

District 28-5A rivals become Saints teammates

Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales will take her power bat and her pitching arm to Our Lady of the Lake.
Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales will take her power bat and her pitching arm to Our Lady of the Lake.
Taylor Doege of East Central was recruited by OLLU as both a pitcher and first baseman.
Taylor Doege of East Central was recruited by OLLU as both a pitcher and first baseman.
Southwest's Amanda Sanchez (second from right) came on the Saints' radar because of her multiplicity of skills.
Southwest’s Amanda Sanchez (second from right) came on the Saints’ radar because of her multiplicity of skills.

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East Central and Southwest have raised the competitive levels of their programs over the last four years. Three players who’ve helped construct those foundations of success have cast their lot with an Our Lady of the Lake University program on a similar fast track to success.

Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales, the Express-News area softball player of the year, on June 4 joined Dragons teammate Amanda Sanchez and East Central rival Taylor Doege in committing to the Saints. Doege and Sanchez each made their college choices in October.

“Those are the types of kids that are going to just continue to make our kids better,” said fifth-year Our Lady of the Lake coach James Kling, including Saints recruits from powerhouses Hays and O’Connor in the comment.

“When they get up here, they’re used to giving it their all every game and playing a tough schedule. We need to get kids that love softball and want to continue playing hard.”

Our Lady of the Lake was the Red River Athletic Conference champion, winning first place in the regular season and taking the conference tournament championship. The Saints fashioned a 39-12-1 record and qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament.

OLLU is stockpiling quite a cadre of former Southwest players. Saints senior Katrisha Arocha pitched for the Dragons before transferring from Texas A&M-Kingsville to become an NAIA honorable mention all-American with OLLU.

Sanchez said the opportunity to play with Arocha again helped make the school a good fit for her.

“We’re really close friends,” she said. “I know a couple of girls on the team. That’s what was really a motivation to me. I’d be excited to play with them.”

Vidales, Sanchez and their Southwest teammates produced a record-setting season, advancing to the Class 5A state semifinals. The Dragons won the District 28-5A championship and finished with a sterling 35-12-1 record.

Making her college choice before the season helped Sanchez play more with a calmer demeanor during her senior season.

“The season was amazing,” Sanchez said. “It’s like the same team we’d been playing with for a long time, but we all learned a little more. It was a great experience, being able to make it that far for our school and our community.

“It was an amazing feeling, knowing that everyone on the team all had each other’s back. I let loose, knowing that if I messed up, I had the team behind me. I could go all out and dive (to make a catch).”

Doege, who helped East Central compile a 24-8 record and reach the area round of the playoffs, doesn’t anticipate any problems in adapting to her former Dragons district rivals as Saints teammates.

“It was a rivalry, but not a rivalry off the field,” Doege said. “Kamerie and I have talked outside of softball. I’ve never really talked to Amanda, but Kamerie and I have gotten along very well. It won’t be hard to become friends with them.”

The Hornets standout and Kling have been in contact since her sophomore season. She said the Saints coach had seen her play on travel teams, as well as with East Central, and Doege has attended OLLU games.

Before committing, Doege took a visit to the school to help decide between OLLU and Southwestern University in Georgetown. On the visit, she was surprised to see so many familiar faces among the Saints players.

“I played against a bunch of those girls in high school,” she said, “but I had no idea they went there. I knew of their abilities. I knew it was a very good softball team. It wasn’t hard to make a decision.”

Vidales will softball and volleyball for the Saints. The 6-foot senior will be an outside hitter in volleyball. In softball, she likely will fit in at first base, according to Kling. The first baseman-pitcher chose OLLU over the University of the Incanate Word.

“I was going to focus on softball,” she said, who was a hitting MVP as a middle blocker in volleyball. “It was a plus to go to school to play both but, if I could, I was going to try.”

Vidales batted .465 with 12 doubles, 11 home runs and 43 RBIs. As a pitcher, she posted a 15-7 record with a 3.33 ERA. She will play in the Texas Girls Coaches Association all-star game in July.

“They had a successful season and a successful team,” Vidales said. “I felt like I could help out the team with my (hitting).”

Her home run power is expected to fill a need for the Saints.

“I’m counting on her big bat,” Kling said. “She hits the ball hard every time. I think that’s something we’ve been lacking the last couple of years.”

Vidales was a first-team all-district selection. Doege and Sanchez were chosen for the 28-5A second team.

Doege was a .300 hitter with three home runs and 13 RBIs for the Hornets. The first baseman-pitcher was 9-2 with a 2.59 ERA in the pitcher’s circle. Sanchez carried a .343 batting average with three triples and 10 RBIs. The left fielder stole 10 bases.

“Amanda gets after it. She can put a bunt down, she’s a great slap hitter and a very good baserunner,” Kling said. “Taylor hits the ball very well. She could eventually turn into a No. 3 hitter. She consistently hits the ball in the gaps and occasionally hits home runs. We’ll work with her as a pitcher for us as well.”

MORE TO COME

 

FOOTBALL: Green finds post-deployment home at Central Catholic

New Central Catholic coach was a career Army man

Central Catholic returns quarterback Joseph Nava.
Central Catholic returns quarterback Joseph Nava.

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE SOUTHSIDE REPORTER WEBSITE

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Although some struggle with their transition from the military into the working world, new Central Catholic football coach L.D. Green Sr. has hit the ground running.

Just seven years after submitting his resignation to the United States Army, Green feels fortunate to have landed his first head coaching job. He had been an assistant under Central Catholic athletic director Carlos Enrico from 2007, shortly after leaving the army, to 2010.

Nonetheless, he said he was surprised June 8 when Enrico called to offer him the position vacated days earlier when Buttons coach Don Byrd retired. Green accepted the job June 10.

“I did 24 years in the military, and all 24 years I knew I wanted to be a coach,” Green said. “I’ve wanted to coach since I left college (in 1981).

“One of my mentors told me that it was remarkable that seven or eight years later to be the head football coach at a school with a reputation of being a great program. I hadn’t thought of it in that context. Even now, I’m still humbled by it. I definitely feel blessed.”

In the last two years of Green’s previous stint at Central Catholic, the Buttons compiled a 17-7 record. In the three years since, Central Catholic has gone 15-18. The 2013 team was 4-7 with a 2-3 mark in TAPPS District 2-I.

“Coach Green has a passion for helping students succeed in the classroom and on the football field,” Enrico said in a news release about Green. ‘He believes in the Catholic Marianist mission of our school and has experienced success everywhere he has coached.

“I wholeheartedly believe he has the knowledge to be successful here for a long time. He brings renewed energy that will resonate well with our student athletes and parents.

“Our alumni will quickly learn that his dedication to success is second to none. Coach Green will help our kids and is the best choice to lead our football program. I am excited to be working with him.”

Green was an offensive line coach at Trinity University the last two seasons. In his previous stint at Central Catholic, he coached defensive backs, the defensive line, special teams and was the strength and conditioning

coordinator. He was in charge of the defensive backs in 2007 and 2008. For the next two years, his position responsibility was the d-line.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” Green said. “It was my first coaching job after being out of the army. I retired April 30 and ended up getting the job May 2. It worked out just right.

“I learned a lot. We definitely had a good run and accomplished good things.”

Meanwhile, he also was earning a bachelor of arts degree in history at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Green also had multi-tasked while in the army. He coached at Moanalua High School in Honolulu and Ft. Campbell High School in Kentucky to gain three years of experience before his military retirement.

Green submitted his retirement paperwork while serving a four-month deployment in Iraq in 2007.

“The military probably helped develop the sense of leadership,” Green said. “You always strive to be in charge. You first learn to follow, then you teach others how to execute. That makes for great units.”

He helped coach an undefeated team at Trinity and coached a state championship squad at Moanalua. His experience coaching offense, defense and special teams, Green said, has prepared him to run Central Catholic’s program.

“Being on both sides of the ball, if I haven’t played it, I’ve coached it,” Green said. “That has helped me understand the game totally.

“The resources are here at Central Catholic. It’s a matter of the guys buying in and feeling the love. If the guys buy in, then you can make the magic happen. It’s just like the domination of San Antonio Spurs.”

Green said he wouldn’t change the offensive or defensive systems the Buttons have been running under Byrd. He’s also hoping to retain much of the staff and benefit from their perspective to maintain continuity in the program heading into this fall.

“It’s very overwhelming, the love and support I’m feeling from my former players,” Green said. “I’m just happy they’ve accepted me at Central, as part of their fraternity and their family.”

As coach, Green feels a responsibility to impart that academic success goes hand in hand with athletic achievement.

“I’m going to bring the program up, but I’m going to mold you in the full circle of life,” Green said. “I want to make you a better man, a better husband, an outstanding leader and just a great citizen.”

Central Catholic should return a big chunk of its offense. Senior quarterback Joseph Nava ran for 811 yards and passed for 801. His brother, Jaime Nava, also is back. Junior Jacob Rodriguez and Jimin Suh rushed for 597 and 264 yards, respectively. The first four receivers were lost to graduation, but Joe Aldrete and Troy Lozano each had 63 reception yards.

Once the first season ends, Green and his staff will determine what modifications might need to be made for 2015. There is no five-year plan for him to follow, but he expects the Buttons to be competitive from Game 1.

“It’s more of a three-year plan,” Green said. “Once the season’s over and we give the seniors a great season, I’ll meet with the juniors and sophomores. Again, I don’t expect any changes scheme-wise. We’ll just look at where we can get better in the W-L column and compete better.

“Then we’ll see if we can get that district championship.”