ANNA – Under the blazing sun of summer-league softball, Anna’s Lady Coyotes may be putting together a team to be reckoned with when the 2018 season rolls around. After winning their first two contests this month — 7-0 over Van Alstyne and 9-8 over Farmersville — Anna battled Whitewright to a 4-4 draw on Tuesday, June 20, at the Anna Sports Complex. Before the Whitewright game, Lady Coyote players and coaches talked about the team’s summer success and the potential for a big turnaround from 2017.

“It’s been awesome,” incoming junior Hannah Howell said. “We have a lot of incoming freshmen, so we’re all trying to get used to each other but it’s working really good. They’re filling some of our empty spots, because our senior players were utility players — they played everywhere. We kind of needed some new talent to fill those spots and we definitely got it. And our outfield that’s coming back is going to be the most important part of our team. We’re going to stop them on defense and just hit away.”

Incoming senior outfielder Chastity Littleton is also impressed with newcomers like Maddie McPherson, Kallie Harris and Madison Gaston.

“These freshmen, they have wonderful talent, wonderful skills,” Littleton said.

McPherson is an outfielder who also plays first base, Harris is a catcher and an outfielder and Gaston is a short stop who also plays outfield.

“We definitely have a good group of girls coming,” Anna co-head coach Devorah McPhearson said. “They’re looking great together. They’re pulling the loose threads together and they’re looking pretty tight. I think (Anna) Coach (Lindsey) Lacy is going to have a wonderful time with them this season. And the upperclassmen are definitely vital.”

UIL rules prohibit school district coaches from participating in summer leagues with their teams.

Bailey Prince, a 2016 Anna graduate and a former Lady Coyote catcher, is the team’s other head coach.

“They’re a lot of young girls,” she said of her squad, “but I think they’re definitely determined.”

Incoming senior outfielder Kirkland Bedwell will be on Anna’s varsity for the first time this season because of a transfer. She noted that the heat has been a factor so far.

“Hot,” is how she characterized the Lady Coyotes’ June slate, though they’ve yet to lose. “Our first game, we played first, when the sun was still high in the sky. I know at the beginning we let that heat get to us, but after the first couple innings we really got ahold of the ball and went home with it. The second week, we played later at night. … And we hit it hard and just took it from there.”

Against Whitewright, the Lady Coyotes fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but came back to tie it with a run in the bottom of the fourth on Howell’s two-out single that brought home Lauren Kerns. The Lady Tigers went back up, 2-1, in the fifth but that lead wouldn’t last. In Anna’s half of the frame, freshmen set the table for a Lady Coyotes’ rally. Gaston opened with a walk followed soon by singles from Harris and McPherson. With the bases loaded and two outs, Colleen Finick stepped to the plate and sent a first-pitch double to center field, scoring three runners for a 4-2 Anna lead.

Whitewright came back with two in the sixth to knot it again as the time-limited contest drew to a close.

Kerns led the Lady Coyote with two hits, including a triple, and Howell, Harris, McPherson, Finnick and Shelby Dombrowski each posted one hit. Howell pitched all six innings for Anna, allowing three hits while striking out eight.