Dave Rogers

For The Record


Head games.

Winning the head games when she is on the field for the Bridge City Cardinals has made Kassidy Wilbur a three-time District 22-4A MVP for her exploits both pitching and hitting.

Last year, winning the head games made Bridge City the District 22-4A softball champions, a Region III semifinalist and owner of a 29-7-1 record.

So now, the Cardinals are once again, playing head games.

“I wish social media didn’t’ exist,” BC coach Kayla Gallardo said last week. “They [players] live and breathe on it.”

This year, it’s a slow start for the Cardinals that has created a Twitter (and Facebook and Instagram) storm for the players.

At 11-7-1, Bridge City already has suffered the same number of losses as last year’s team. The folks at district rivals Silsbee, Orangefield and Little Cypress-Mauriceville are openly questioning the Cards.

“Last year, it took a while for us to have chemistry and play to our full ability,” said Wilbur, a senior who has signed to play in college at Stephen F. Austin State.

“This year, we’re still trying to get to know each other. But we’ll be fine.

“We’re just knocking the rust off.”

Gallardo points out that a year ago the team opened the 2017 season without Wilbur; she was starring for a basketball team that reached the playoffs.

This year, three BC softballers — Wilbur, Caitlin Denison and Kyndall Harrison – missed the start of the softball season while part of a basketball team that went even deeper in the playoffs.

But they’re back now.

“That’s no excuse,” Gallardo said. “We need to live up the challenge. We have a little bit tougher schedule, with a lot of road games.

“But hopefully, it will help us come playoff time.”

BC returns all but three players from last year.

“The lineup is pretty much the same,” the coach said. “We added a freshman lefty hitter, which is something we haven’t had in years.”

Gallardo said she’s spent the early part of the season trying to find the best spots to place her hitters, but is sure she’s going to keep Wilbur in the leadoff spot.

“She’s such a well-known hitter that people tend to walk her if she’s down in the lineup.”

In 2017, Wilbur led BC in batting average (.416), hits (42), runs batted in (34) and homers (11).

The lineup behind Wilbur includes junior catcher Abby Anderson; Harrison, a sophomore shortstop; Denison, a junior third sacker; sophomore first baseman Natilee Reed; junior left fielder Aleah McClanahan; senior second baseman Jalynne Burch; sophomore designated player Chloe Halliburton; and freshman outfielder Ashley Gerrald.

Others on the roster include junior Vivian Nguyen and freshmen Courtney Ball and Austyn Daniels.

Denison (.296 and 13 RBIs), McClanahan (.289 and 11 RBIs) and Burch (.260 and 13 RBIs) are among the team’s other veteran hitters.

But Wilbur dominates on the plate and in the pitcher’s circle.

She struck out 284 batters in 159 innings last year en route to a 23-5 record and a 0.66 earned run average.

“Being a pitcher and a hitter benefits me,” Wilbur said.

“I can put myself in their shoes: If I’m pitching ahead in the county, I’m throwing something high or off-speed.

“If I’m hitting, I think ‘What would I throw?”