By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Belton Lady Tigers softball will have the opportunity to see the fruits of their off-season workouts this weekend, as they travel to Round Rock this weekend for the 16th Annual Round Rock Invitational Softball Tournament. The preseason tournament will be a two-day tourney, held at Old Settlers Park.
The tournament was rescheduled from last weekend due to inclement weather. The conditions this weekend are projected to be ideal for January standards, with temperatures forecasted in the low-60’s.
Belton’s first day will have the Lady Tigers taking on El Paso Montwood at 9:10 a.m. and Houston Bellaire at 10:20 a.m. Both games are scheduled to be 60-minute time-limit games and are to be played at Hall of Fame Field 1.
Bracket play starts at 2:30 p.m. at Gold Glove Field 18 against Leander Rouse. Should Belton win, they would play Plano West at 4 p.m. at Gold Glove Field 18. If they lose, they would play at Hall of Fame Field 2 at 4 p.m. The team will have a minimum of four games the first day.
The preseason team will be coached by former Belton Tigers’ baseball player Seth Alcozer.
Belton returns 13 players from their District 8-5A Championship/Bi-District Championship team, which including Defensive MVP Sidney Holman (20-12, 2.66 ERA, 179 IP, school-record 218 strikeouts in 2014) and Offensive MVP Skylar Stewart (.474 average, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 45 hits, 10 doubles). The Lady Tigers will also have freshman Ryleigh Jarvis joining Belton for the preseason tournament.
“This tournament is good measuring stick of the conditioning of the team,” Belton head coach Matt Blackburn said.
The tournament is has been an important one for the team in the past. Makayla Hernandez, the former Lady Tiger and current McLennan Community College player, used the experience to break out and emerge as the team’s second baseman and leadoff hitter in 2014. The opportunity is there again this season, as a couple of the positions are open this season, especially at second base with the graduation of Hernandez, first base following the long standing tenure at the position by four-year starter Alyson Bishoff (now at Abilene Christian) and center field with the graduation of Kaitlyn Dunnahoo.