Miranda, Wheeler earn first-team honors
Considering what she meant to Burleson’s softball team, Lady Elks coach Summer Owen was a little surprised that senior third baseman Zoe Miranda didn’t land a superlative slot on the District 9-5A softball team.
Instead, Miranda and sophomore shortstop Natali Wheeler made the first team.
Miranda’s resume was a strong one, having hit .600 to lead the district in hitting. For the season, the senior hit .575 with 33 RBI and four home run.
“We expected her to be more than the first team,” Owen said. “It was obvious that she was going to be on the first team at the least. She’s a stud player.”
Owen said what makes Miranda a top-notch player is her mind set.
“She goes to the plate whether she is struggling or not and puts the team on her back,” Owen said.
Last season, Miranda earned first-team honors and Wheeler was the co-Newcomer of Year along with Aledo’s Hannah Andrews.
As a sophomore, Wheeler hit .500 for the season with 20 RBI’s and two home runs. Along with Miranda, she locked down the Lady Elks’ left side of the infield.
“We knew when we saw her as a freshman that she was going to be a promising player,” Owen said. “She continued to do that this year taking over the role as our leadoff hitter and playing shortstop. She’s growing into a leader and following in Zoe’s footsteps. I can’t think of a better person for her to look up to.”
Under Owen’s direction, the Lady Elks finished third in district play and posted an overall record of 13-13. For the first time in Owen’s tenure, the Lady Elks didn’t make it to the second-round of the playoffs. Burleson was swept in a bi-district series with Midlothian.
“The season started rocky and we weren’t sure what was going to actually happen,” Owen said. “We ended up finishing third in district which is the best finish since I got here. We would have liked to have our first round playoff game but that didn’t happen.”
The trademark victory for the Lady Elks came April 7 when they defeated arch-rival Centennial for the first time since March 5, 2013. Burleson beat the Lady Spartans, 9-7, in eight innings. The win came following an 8-2 loss to Centennial in the first half of district play.
“Beating Centennial, which was something we could hang our hat on, and was also something we had been wanting to do for a long time,” Owen said. “It’s not just beating Centennial but letting them know that we are competition. It seemed like every time we played them we kind of panicked because they were Centennial. Then we finally looked at them as another opponent and didn’t worry about the name on the jersey. Putting up a win on such a strong team like Centennial is a big deal.”
Burleson also produced three second-team players in senior center fielder Saeya Esparza, junior catcher Lauren Isbell and sophomore pitcher Kyleigh Rich.
The Lady Elks had two players on the honorable mention list in junior left fielder Maddie McGovern and freshman second baseman Bridgette Montes.