The Fort Bend Christian softball team will start 2017 looking to repeat as state champions. With the firepower returning, the Eagles will be the early favorite to win it all and capture their 6th overall state title. Kelly Carroll returns to lead the Eagles squad for her 11th season and will most likely get to the career 300-win mark this year. Carroll has 289 wins to her name, all at Fort Bend Christian.
The Eagles get started on February 14th in a game at Barbers Hill before playing in the ultra-competitive tournament in Bryan/College Station the following weekend. It was at this tournament last season a young pitching staff got their feet wet against the likes of state champion Keller, Midland, and Conroe. By season’s end, then-sophomore Tessa Cantrell and then-freshman Abby Cousins had grown to pitch like experienced upperclassmen, which showed when the Eagles ran the gauntlet against Vicotria St. Joseph, Holy Cross, Corpus Christi Incarnate Word, and Dallas Christian to capture title number five. Cantrell returns as the Eagle ace in the circle, earning 2nd team all-state honors a year ago and was named to the TAPPS State Tournament team. Much like last season, Cousins and newcomer, sophomore Shelby McMillin, will see their time in the circle as well.
Offensively, the trio of 1st team all-state selections Claire McKissick, Kati Ray Brown, and Danielle Sonnier all return to give the Eagles the most potent middle lineup in the state. McKissick returns at shortstop and has signed with Texas Tech while 1B Sonnier has signed with Texas Southern. Brown, a junior, has committed to Houston, and will direct the Eagles’ squad behind the plate.
Emily Ferguson, a junior, also returns after hitting in the leadoff spot a year ago and will most likely be followed by Cousins in the lineup. Rounding out the lineup will be a combination of McMillin, junior Mabry Rylands, sophomore Kenedy Kornegay, senior Kendall Bohny, freshman Riley Cargile, and freshman Jackie Jessup. Cargile and Jessup are already getting interest from colleges such as Samford, Columbia, Houston, Texas State, and Sam Houston State.
Defensively, the Eagles return their entire starting infield with Ferguson (3B), McKissick (SS), Bohny (2B), and Sonnier (1B). The outfield also returns everyday players in Rylands and Cousins.
The Eagles once again schedule a challenging slate of games, allowing the team to prepare for a deep playoff run. In addition to the BCS tournament, the Eagles will face Mayde Creek, TAPPS Division I power St. Agnes, and SPC favorites Houston Christian and Episcopal High School. To repeat the success of last season, the Eagles will have to get the lead hitters on so the potent middle lineup can produce runs. One area FBCA can improve on is their base running. There were several opportunities missed last season due to base running errors and expect improvement in that area. Coach Carroll should be confident in her 2017 team with everyone returning and experienced leaders on the field. That experience will be crucial as TAPPS Division II is arguably the most competitive division in softball, despite one of the powerhouse teams, Reicher, dropping to Division III due to realignment.
Manager: Kelly Carroll (11th season, 289-72-4)
Coach(es): Kelli Jacoby
2016 Record: 23-6-1 (10-0 district)
State Championships: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016
Notable Alumni: Rachel Fox (Scrap Yard Dawgs, TAMU); Lizzy Fox (UTSA); Haley Meinen (Tulsa); Kendall Brown (University of Houston)