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JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — Just qualifying for the playoffs this season won’t be enough for the Marble Falls High School softball team, according to head coach Tino Salazar.

PHOTO: Marble Falls High School junior pitcher Amanda Thomas winds up for a pitch against Burkburnett in a scrimmage Feb. 2. The Lady Mustangs’ season-opener is 6 p.m. Feb. 12 against Wimberley at Scearce Field, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. Courtesy photo

The road to the state tournament starts Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. against Wimberley at Scearce Field, 2101 Mustang Drive, in the Lady Mustangs’ season-opener.

For the past several years in the playoffs, the Lady Mustangs have lost at least three times to the eventual state champion, most recently last year in the area round to Smithson Valley.

But with all but one player returning this season, the Lady Mustangs are looking to get past the first round of the postseason, Salazar said.

“I think expectations from me, from the team themselves, I think the girls are expecting a lot from themselves,” he said. “And I think the community, or at least the high school community, has put some pressure on us, and it’s a welcome pressure.”

Seniors Abby Henry, Catie Whitecotton, Haley Wooten and Hayley Fishbeck haven’t missed the playoffs in the past three years. Juniors Amanda Thomas, Tyler Oppenheim, Skylar Riley, Sarah Hodgdon, Trudy Gordon and Naomi Macias are the rest of the upperclassmen.

Thomas is the most versatile, able to play pitcher, catcher and in the infield. Macias was the starting catcher for Thomas.

Salazar said the program has a group of underclassmen, led by freshman pitcher Mackenzie Carpenter, that is expected to compete with the older athletes for playing time.

“It’ll come down to who’s hitting the ball,” the coach said.

And he expects District 25-4A to be every bit as good as it’s always been. The district is led by Dripping Springs, who has won the division crown for several years. Lake Travis has been replaced with Leander, ” who’s a solid, solid contender for maybe even the district championship,” Salazar said.

“I don’t think it’s gotten easier, maybe a little more difficult,” he said.

jfierro@thepicayune.com