NORTH ENID, Okla. — After its postseason run ended in the regional semifinals a little less than a year ago, the Chisholm fast-pitch softball team begins the 2019 campaign with intentions of advancing a few steps further this time around.

The Lady Longhorns have never qualified for the Class 3A State Tournament, but with half a dozen now-seniors returning from last year’s group, head coach Kevin Burns said he hopes the experience will guide Chisholm to its goal.

“It’s been two or three years since I’ve had the senior leadership that I’ve got this year,” he said. “Last year, I only had one senior, the year before that, I think I had a couple. It’ll be an interesting season.”

Chisholm opens its 2019 schedule Monday at home against Watonga. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Burns anticipates all six of his seniors will start, with two platooning in the outfield.

Senior Tatum Long returns as the Lady Longhorns’ shortstop and clean-up hitter. A verbal commit to Wichita State University, Burns values Long’s ability to lead by example.

“That’s been her biggest asset in terms of leadership,” Burns said. “She goes out, play hard and does things right for the most part. Hopefully (our) young girls are paying attention to that.”

Burns added he has no doubt Long is a Division I-caliber player with her all-around intelligence, power at the plate and cannon for an arm.

Other seniors include Kelby Carlson, utility; Abbi John, first base; Danielle Dick, center field; Cassidie Schmidt, second base; and Emme Hughes, utility.

Pitching-wise, Chisholm’s staff will be young after using a majority of freshmen last season. Burns said sophomore Allie Meek is still recovering from a labrum injury and may not be able to return as a pitcher this year, but could see time as a pinch hitter or courtesy runner.

Chisholm finds itself with several new and familiar teams in its district this season. Competing in District 3A-1, the Lady Longhorns are grouped with Alva, Hennessey, Kellyville, Newkirk, Perry and Prague.

“It’ll be a fairly tough district to get through,” Burns said. “That caliber of ball will make us better.”

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Nagel is a sports reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.

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