Thomas leading at, behind the plate for Mustangs

MSU catcher Amanda Thomas (near) leads the team in average and RBI this season and is second in home runs / Source: KAUZ
MSU catcher Amanda Thomas (near) leads the team in average and RBI this season and is second in home runs / Source: KAUZ

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State University softball sits 9th in the Lone Star Conference with three weeks left in the regular season.

They start a difficult stretch Friday with 10th-ranked Angelo State coming to Mustangs Park. The schedule for the series has changed to a doubleheader Friday and a single game Saturday, each starting at 2 p.m.

The Mustangs offense has been hit-or-miss this season, but they had a big series offensively at Western New Mexico last week.

One constant in the lineup has been senior catcher Amanda Thomas. She leads the team with a .329 batting average and 22 runs batted in, and is just one off the team lead in home runs with five.

She had a solid sophomore season, her first at MSU, before struggling to a .205 average as a junior last year. Some off-season work with second-year head coach Mark Ryal has really helped her make the most of her final season.

"I think we worked on a little bit of pitch selection and that's been big for me," Thomas said. "I'm not swinging at as many balls as I had been in the past. So I think that's been a big deal, and just going in relaxed and more confident."

"You know, the last two or three years she has not been able to make a decision quick enough, whether it's a ball or a strike," Ryal said. "And of course it rides on that. The game is all about getting your pitch to hit and hitting and swinging at strikes. She's doing a lot better job of that this spring."

Just as important as her job at the plate is her job behind the plate. As the pitching staff has gone through some injuries, she's had to work with five different pitchers, the most she's had to work with at MSU.

"I think I've done a good job of getting to know my pitchers," she said. "I know how each of them work. I know what I can and can't say to each one of them.

"I can walk out there to Kelsey and kinda jump her butt, and then other ones I've got to be like, 'It's okay, just relax. Like, we've got your back.' Everything like that. It's always fun to try and figure people out and see how they work and help them out the best I can."

Coach Ryal admits his team is banged up with several key injuries, and this series will be tough. But he knows his girls will give it their all the rest of the season.

"I mean, we're wounded," he admitted. "We're not dead, you know. And I just need them to finish out the next three weeks. We're only guaranteed three more weeks for sure. Just finish it out strong and we'll just see how the dominoes fall."

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