Defending Super 25 softball champion La Grange (Texas) opens season

La Grange (Texas), the defending USA TODAY High School Sports/National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Super 25 softball champion, opens its 2017 season Monday against Lake Travis (Texas).

And the word for the season is “Tradition.” Photos of the school’s field show the word painted in big block letters in the dugout. #Tradition marks a lot of the posts on the team Twitter feed and players have been wearing T-shirts that say “Tradition Never Graduates.”

La Grange won its second UIL Class 4A state title in three years last spring with an 8-1 victory against North Lamar (Paris, Texas) in the state title game. The Leopards finished 41-2.

Sharon Vinklarek is back as head coach after Art Behrend left for Giddings. Vinklarek had a record of 226-87 in a decade as coach, including the 2005 state title. She remained a teacher at the school despite not coaching. She is a La Grange alumnus as are her two assistant coaches.

Darby Fitzpatrick, who was 7-0 last season, takes over as the primary starting pitcher following the graduation of Missy Zoch. The No. 2 pitcher a year ago, the Sam Houston State signee is now the team’s No. 1 starter.

Offensively, La Grange loses a number of stars, including state finals MVP Briana Angel, but Vinklarek says she thinks the team can equal last season’s potent offense.

Missouri signee Hattie Moore, a catcher, will be among the team’s key anchors in guiding the pitching staff and also offensively.