Lady Panthers 16 v Hudson

Lufkin’s Natalie Chavez (16) snags a ball at first base to record an out against Hudson’s Kinley Evans during a March 3 game at Hudson High School.

Like many softball players, Lufkin’s Natalie Chavez admits to her own variety of superstitions.

Whether it be a certain routine in getting into the batter’s box or taking the field, there are certain set patterns she follows almost every time.

Those patterns lead to what many players refer to as luck.

Any success she has on the field shouldn’t be simply attributed to that luck. She’s got the work ethic that shows any success on the field is far from just a simple superstition.

“I follow certain routines pretty much every time I’m out there,” Chavez said. “Every time, I have to take two steps forward and two steps to the right. I think the main thing is that whatever you’re doing, you just can’t lose focus. The game goes too quick to lose focus.”

Chavez is in her fourth year in the Lufkin program and her second year of varsity. She admits she has been playing the game for as long as she can remember.

Softball may have started out simply as a game but it has turned into much more.

“I really enjoy getting to be out there with the girls,” Chavez said. “It gives me some free time to get out there and not worry about anything or anybody else. When games start, it’s an hour and 30 minutes of just softball.”

Over the last two years, Chavez has provided her fair share of big-time hits along along with strong defensive plays for the Lady Panthers.

Lufkin head coach Ashley Martin insists those aren’t even the strongest attributes she brings to the team.

“Natalie’s a true teammate,” Martin said. “She is a positive influence on the field and in the dugout.”

Chavez also knows when the games mean the most. Lufkin came into the season as a contender for one of the district’s playoff spots.

In the a district-opening 17-6 win in Pine Tree, Chavez came through with a double and two RBIs to go along with three weeks.

Chavez feels that given the opportunity, Lufkin could be a legitimate playoff threat.

“With this being my senior year, I could really see the drive the team has,” Chavez said. “I could tell this whole team really wants it.”

Even the current hiatus in the season can’t completely keep Chavez away from her favorite sport even if it does keep the team away from each other.

“I can go in my backyard and do a little bit,” Chavez said. “but we can’t really be around people right now. I miss that time bonding with all the girls.”

Following graduation, Chavez will make the short trip to Nacogdoches where she plans to study speech pathology at Stephen F. Austin.

Her head coach said her personality will pay off for her long after her softball days are done.

“She works hard, encourages others and always finds something positive or witty to keep spirits up,” Martin said.

Josh Havard’s email address is josh.havard@lufkindailynews.com.

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