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    Senior centerfielder Gracie Morton returns for Centennial after being honored as the District 9-5A Offensive MVP last season. BURLESON STAR/RICKY MOORE

Speed gives Centennial softball new look

Recent incarnations of Centennial’s softball team have relied on speed and power to win games.

The Lady Spartans have run the bases with wild abandon lately, putting excess pressure on opposing defenses.

This season, opponents will be hard-pressed again on defense because Centennial coach Shannon Sullivan says “Team 8” at Centennial will be faster than ever.

“We are going to be very good,” Sullivan said. “This squad has a different look from “Team 7” they have a lot more speed and can do more things.”

Last season, Centennial went 13-1 to win the District 9-5A title. The Lady Spartans defeated Mansfield Summit and Dallas Spruce before falling in three games to Mansfield Legacy. Centennial ended the season with a record of 25-10.

“The players learned a lot from that loss to Legacy,” Sullivan said. “And the younger kids are excited about the possibilities.”

As is the case with any team coached by Sullivan, those who are hitting will find their way into the lineup. Luckily for Sullivan, the players on “Team 8” are versatile and can play different positions.

The offense will be centered around senior centerfielder Gracie Morton. Last season, Morton was the District 9-5A Offensive MVP.

In the circle for the Lady Spartans will be junior Hayley Murrell, sophomore Presley Green and senior Serena Bersuch. Murrell earned second-team all-district honors last season. Handling the pitching staff will be catchers senior Mac Harshbarger and junior Madison Thurman.

Four players, including sophomore Casey Hendrixson, sophomore Haley Rudd, Harshbarger and Thurman, are vying for playing time at first base.

At second baseman, sophomore Mackenzie Law or sophmore Laney Vaughn could get the nod. Returning at shortstop is second-team all-district player senior Reagan Ellison. Vaughn will back up Ellison.

Another second-team player, junior Karter Hill, is back at third base. Bersuch and Hendrixson could also see playing time at third base. Junior Kylee Gowin and Vaughn will each see time in left field. In right field, junior Carley Eller and Bersuch are possible starters.

For the first time in a while, the Lady Spartans will play in tournaments for three consecutive weeks. The Lady Spartans open play in the Mansfield Tournament today.

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