Howard changes Lady Broncos’ outlook

First-year Mustang softball coach Bryan Howard was hired this past winter, and it hasn’t taken him very long to change the outlook of the Lady Broncos softball program.

When he was hired, Howard said he wanted to bring “toughness” and “tenacity” to the program. The Bronco girls already had the talent level and experience to compete for a state title. They just needed something to push them over that extra hump.

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As the Lady Broncos head into the summer season, they already have a different vibe than they employed a year ago.

“It’s going really good so far,” Mustang senior pitcher Jayden Chestnut said. “We all really like having workouts and playing games together in the summer. It gives us a chance to really come together as a team and form chemistry now instead of trying to do it right before the season starts in August.”

The Mustang girls are out on the field every morning at 7 going through conditioning and speed drills. Once their conditioning workout is completed, they go straight into several hours of practice working on individual things to improve their game.

The Lady Broncos softball team will also compete in a summer league schedule against other schools around the area. They will play eight games in the month of June, have several weeks off from games and then return to the practice field for preseason practice in July.

Howard said the most important thing is developing chemistry.

“Sure, we want to improve our speed, agility and conditioning level, but the main thing is we need to improve our team chemistry,” he said. “Other sports get four, five, maybe even six months together. If we were to wait until the end of July to get together as a team for the first time, we would only have two months together.”

Howard is not a laid-back coach. His players love to play for him, but he is not someone who is going to sugar-coat anything with you when it comes to softball. He said he wants his team to be tough physically, but fearless mentally.

“We are going to face adverse times during the season, during games, that’s just softball, that’s sports,” he said. “We have to be able to overcome that. Every state championship team I have ever been a part of had that ability. You cannot dwell on the past, whether it be good or bad, you have to always focus on what you can control and that is what happens in the future.”

Chestnut said she is excited to have a coach that is going to push them going into her final season with the Lady Broncos.

“We understand what we have to do in order to be successful on the field,” she said. “We know it starts right now with how hard we work when we are out here. We can’t just show up and win, we have to earn it right now. We are accomplishing that right now. I’m excited to see what this team can do in the fall.”

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