New year, with new direction, but same dreams.

By Ryan Lewis -

Anna Simmons talks with Head Coach Joey Stengell.

Courtesy photo

Keslee Baker is at bat.

Courtesy photo

Pitcher Kymbree McKee winds up.

Courtesy photo

The Altus High School Lady Bulldog softball program has been in disarray for quite some time.

There has not been a true softball coach for the team in years and the school found itself without a coach this summer, leaving the team to scramble to find somebody that could come in and fill that role.

But the school leadership would no longer be content with just anybody. Officials were looking for somebody who could come in and turn this program around and get it back to its winning ways.

Enter Joey Stengell.

“We have a whole new direction for the program with new Head Coach Joey Stengell,” Athletic Director Todd Ware said. “I feel the program is in a position to make strides and I see us being more competitive with the improvements of our returning cast plus the addition of some new girls entering the program. I would expect they could fight out a solid district record and go into the playoffs with confidence with a decent seed. The girls have the tools and leadership to win a lot of games and slip up on some people that may not expect them to.”

Stengell has been around softball for a long time and up until his appointment as the head softball coach of the Lady Bulldogs, he had been an assistant coach for the Western Oklahoma State College softball team and the head coach of the Velocity Fastpitch program.

Who else could be more qualified to take over a team in desperate need of direction and turn it into a force that can compete for a state championship yearly?

Stengell has implemented changes since coming on board in July.

He wanted his girls to have their own identity. More than anything, he wanted the town to get excited about AHS softball again.

His first change was to move them from WOSC’s field back to Missile Park, only instead of choosing the softball field that had been used for many years by the program, he opted for a different one.

His plan is to change this team and give it a sense of self. He wants to have a dedicated field for his girls, but knows that is still some time away. Instead, he will build the program the way he needs to in order to be successful and show the City of Altus that his girls are deserving of everything he wants them to have.

As for the team, he is ecstatic.

“There’s so much talent with this team and the energy is amazing,” Stengell said. “The focus and work ethic are great. A lot of these girls have raw talent and my job is to mold it and be patient, but we can definitely hit the ball and I think we’re going to be able to score runs and that is exciting.”

The team started off with a huge win at Lawton MacArthur beating the Highlanders 14-10, a score that is not indicative of how far ahead the Lady Bulldogs actually were in the game. At one point, they led 10-1.

They will build off that win and learn from their losses, but this is a team that is built to go far and now that it has the right coach in place who knows how to develop the talent the girls have, the sky is the limit.

Anna Simmons talks with Head Coach Joey Stengell. Simmons talks with Head Coach Joey Stengell. Courtesy photo

Keslee Baker is at bat. Baker is at bat. Courtesy photo

Pitcher Kymbree McKee winds up. Kymbree McKee winds up. Courtesy photo

By Ryan Lewis

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

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