If you threw Richard Tressler overboard in a storm, he’d probably find something on the bottom of the ocean, use it to build a better boat, and sail calmly back into the race. That’s exactly what his North softball team has done in 2009, and after fighting through a series of setbacks, the Lady Cougars are preparing for bi-district.
True, they hadn’t planned on a three-week layoff due to the so-called Swine Flu outbreak but again, keep in mind that this coach, and the program he’s built into a consistent winner over 13 years, is unsinkable.
“I really think the layoff is going to benefit everyone,” said Tressler Monday, as the team resumed workouts in preparation for a three-game series against Brownsville Porter that starts on the road May 15. “But I guess it is best for us, because we have had some girls banged up, and they are getting a chance to heal.”
Foremost among the walking wounded is junior pitcher Iliana Hinojosa, who was forced over to first base for the final three regular-season tilts due to an injured finger on her throwing hand. She appears to be most of the way back, and Monday was firing them in there, popping the mitt like she’s done for three seasons.
“I think she is there, but there is some rust and she is working on getting her timing back, location on some pitches, that kind of thing,” said the coach, whose team sidestepped a late-season swoon to make the playoffs for the 10th time in 13 campaigns. “The time off has allowed us to regroup, and I think we will be more than ready to play when the time comes.”
The Lady Coogs face an uphill climb against Porter, the 32-5A champ who went unbeaten in league play and has lost just three times all year. But Tressler knows his battling bunch is not giving an inch.
“We don’t have any misconceptions, this is going to be a tough series,” he admitted. “But we have a group with a lot talent, and one that has overcome a lot to get to this point.” Pointing to the outfield fence, where banners trumpet the past North success, he added, “They also understand the tradition of the program, and what is expected of them.”
The Lady Coogs concentrated on quality as opposed to quantity last week, meaning workouts were shorter are more directed.
“We are looking at particular game situations, specific points in the game we need to improve on,” Tressler noted. “We can get out cuts in, and do the things we need to do in an hour and a half, as opposed to two-and-a-half hours. “We want to stay sharp defensively and focus on some other items.”
Game One will be down in Brownsville, with a doubleheader (if necessary) to follow, at North Saturday, starting at 5 p.m. Tressler and his bunch have played the Cowgirls three years in a row and so they know what to expect.
“The teams come in with the exact same records as last year and we were able to win that series,” he recalled. “Our girls have a lot of heart and after they managed to get back into the playoffs, well, it showed what kind of competitors they are.”
NOTES: The Porter series was switched back to a one-gamer last week, to be played Tuesday down in Brownsville.