Plainview softball aiming for the fences as expectations are high for 2021 campaign

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
The Lady Indians return a number of athletes from a season ago and first-year head coach Brandon Ybarra says this group has high expectations of hosting a regional and advancing to the state tournament.

It didn’t take long for Brandon Ybarra to discover the hype associated with the Plainview High School softball team. The first-year head coach might not be that familiar with southern Oklahoma, but he already knows the Lady Indians have lofty goals for the 2021 campaign.

“I know hearing from the town and the kids that they do have high expectations,” Ybarra said. “I’m just trying to make sure we live up to those expectations. I know it’s going to be a fun ride. I’m going to enjoy the experience and they’re going to enjoy the experience. But we’re definitely going to hold each other to a high level this year, for sure.”

Plainview is in good shape to achieve those goals, especially since the Lady Indians return a number of athletes from a 2020 squad that finished 23-12 and advanced to Class 4A Regionals.

Plainview's Logan Lee connects on a hit as her teammates wait for their turn during a drill.

Seniors Brinkley Campbell, Dalia Daniels, Riley Grant, Logan Lee and Taryn Martin lead the way and Ybarra expects a lot from the group.

“I rely on those seniors just to take leadership on this team,” Ybarra said. “They’re really showing the young ones how to go. I pulled them aside and said, ‘Try to teach the ropes to everybody.’ They’re really taking on this role and we are really going to rely on the seniors to lead us how far we go.”

However, the Lady Indians will also depend on their depth, including juniors Kirra Gooden, Samara Morgan, Brooklyn Stricker and Madi Otero. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as the roster features a combined 15 sophomores and freshmen.

A group of Lady Indians talk with each other before a drill at practice.

That doesn’t guarantee success though, as District 4A-3 is stacked from top to bottom. It features Dickson, Lone Grove, Madill, Marlow, Sulphur and Pauls Valley. The Lady Horns are likely the favorite after advancing to the 4A State Championship in 2020.

And even Ybarra knows who Plainview wants to beat.

“I know, for sure, they have Lone Grove (circled),” he said. “That’s their rival.”

The Lady Indians dropped both matchups to the Lady Horns a year ago, but get a chance at revenge when the two squads meet on Aug. 24 and Sept. 14.

The Lady Indians open the season Aug. 9 in Tishomingo.

However, that’s not the team’s No. 1 priority.

“The girls definitely just want to be at the top of the district, host a regional and get to the state tournament,” Ybarra said. “Those are the main goals right there.”

In order to accomplish that, Plainview plans to lean on defense and pitching. Ybarra said those are the team’s strengths and a lot of it has to do with returning pitchers Riley Grant and Brooklyn Charnock along with a new face.

“Freshman Emma Freeman is going to help in the pitching rotation,” Ybarra said. “She’ll give these girls a break every now and then during tournament ball and regular-season games. It definitely helps in the long run.”