Meagan Diaz was hired as Stephenville High School’s new head softball coach in July, so she has only seen her Honeybees in action since the first day of practice on Jan. 24.
While there are many things to be worked out as she and the Honeybees get to know each other better, Diaz has already learned some of the most promising characteristics about her players.
The fact that they have “lots of energy” and good team speed are just two of the areas in which they should be strong.
“They’re very determined,” Diaz said. “They have lots energy and they’re outgoing. Their work ethic is awesome, and they are very attentive in practice.”
The last scrimmage for the Honeybees was Friday at home against Grandview, but their regular-season opener will be Monday, Feb. 17, at home against Dublin (varsity at 7 p.m.). That will be the first official game played at the new field that was recently completed, behind the high school. Their first district contest will be March 24, at home against Brownwood.
Diaz was named as the SHS head softball coach after the departure of former Honeybee coach Rus Mayes and his assistant — wife Kristi Mays — who are now coaching in Godley.
Diaz had been an assistant softball and volleyball coach for West Magnolia since 2017. She has also coached at Seven Lakes High School in Katy, plus Keller, Aldine and Jasper. Her husband, Isaac Diaz, is one of the athletic trainers for the SISD.
Diaz said the 2020 Honeybees appear to be intense and hungry for success — and are willing to stay after practice to put in more work on their own.
When asked if the team speed might mean a lack of power, Diaz responded, “We have some power, for sure. I feel we will have a solid defense. We’ll have a strong batting lineup, too.”
Diaz has seven players returning who were on the varsity last season, including Maggie Watson, and infielder/outfielder who was second-team all-District 7-4A last season.
Other returning players include two who earned team honors at the post-season banquet — the team’s offensive most valuable player, Kaida Tomlinson and the SHS defensive MVP Katie McIrvin, who is expected to be a standout once again at catcher.
Diaz said her goal is for the team to make the playoffs, and to “win every pitch.”
“We are looking forward to the season, and ready to hit it head on,” said Diaz, who played in the 2011 NCAA Division I College Softball World Series as a team captain of the Baylor University women’s squad that brought home third place.
Diaz comes from a family of coaches. Her mother, Valerie Weldon, coached a Splendora High School team to a state softball championship. Her father, Kevin Weldon, was head football coach and athletic director at Splendora. Her brother, Tyler Weldon, is a former head baseball coach for Cleveland High School.
While the exact pitching setup has not been decided, Diaz mentioned that Kenna Luttrell, Ellie Hodgen and Tomlinson could be in the varsity pitching mix, plus one other.
Several players aren’t available to start the season because they are still involved in other sports. They include basketball players Jaylee Matthews, Jettie Funderburgh and McIrvin.
Others on the early varsity roster include seniors Maci Watson, Jordan Wilkins, Brelyn Carrillo, Anika Prine, Gracie Bales and Mattie Stephens. Bales is a four-year starter and one of the top scorers on the SHS soccer team — and that season is ongoing.
Juniors include Norma Hernandez, Emily Wehnert, Brooke Terry, Maya Saldivar and Laine Watson. Matthews is the lone sophomore.