Weatherford Democrat

February 13, 2014

Lightfoot bullish on WC’s conference

Weatherford Democrat

Courtesy - Weatherford College

On paper it might seem as though the Weatherford College Coyotes lost a lot from their baseball team last season.

But Coach Jeff Lightfoot appears confident his team can make a fifth consecutive trip to the postseason.

“We prepared and played well this fall,” he said. “I felt like we learned how to go about playing the game with a championship style.”

It’s not as though the cupboard is bare, however. Three returning starters lead the charge from last season’s 33-25 squad that advanced to the regional tournament.

Former Weatherford Kangaroo Trooper Reynolds hit .289 a year ago with four home runs for the Coyotes. He was tied for seventh in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference (NTJCAC) with 45 runs batted in.

Shortstop Paxton Delagarza’s 13 doubles tied for ninth in the league. He also hit .276 and drove in 35 runs.

Also, Shane Crawford returns at first base.

Top new recruits include sophomore right-handed pitcher T.J. Antone, freshman outfielder/right-handed pitcher Scottland Church, freshman outfielder Zach Michener, freshman right-handed pitcher Cameron Vige and sophomore right-handed pitcher Keaton Hernandez.

“And several others,” Lightfoot added, noting confidence in his new finds.

Pitching has consistently been a strong suit during Lightfoot’s tenure of more than a decade at the helm of the program. It should be so again this season, he said, despite having numerous new faces.

“I feel like we are deep on the mound,” said Lightfoot.

“We should be more balanced offensively. I think we are a tough team with good work habits. I feel like we will show up on game day.”

Last season the Coyotes posted a team batting of .278, seventh in the conference. Their ERA of 4.47 was also seventh.

The Coyotes are seeking their first NJCAA World Series berth, but coming from their conference and region makes getting there much tougher than for most. It won’t change this season, meaning the road to the World Series will again likely be the most challenging in America for teams in this part of the country.

“As always, a very tough conference,” said Lightfoot.

“Grayson and Cisco will be very good again, and Temple is always very tough. However, from top to bottom it is the best conference in the country.

“The region is very good as well. New Mexico, Howard and Midland are expected to be among the best in the country.

“You will have to be good to get in the top four in the conference (to qualify for regionals). The winner of our regional should have a chance to compete in the national tournament.”

One thing Lightfoot said always helps is good ol’ support from the home folks.

“We need our community support,” he said. “Good energetic crowds equal home field advantage.”

Editor’s note: Area fans can take in the next Coyotes’ home games on Friday and Saturday when WC takes the field against visiting Blinn College. Friday’s contest begins at 5 p.m., with a 7/9-inning double header on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. NTJCAC play will begin Mar. 5, with WC hosting Temple College.