LA JOYA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — La Joya head softball coach Carlos Rodriguez is throwing his players a changeup this upcoming season. The team is returning seven starters from last year’s team that reached the playoffs. Some of them will be moving to different positions on the field.

“Changes in infield and outfield to strengthen ourselves,” Rodriguez said. “A team effort. Everyone has bought into making changes for benefit of team.”

One of the players moving to a different spot is Alayali Alaniz. The junior is moving to catcher from the outfield. La Joya was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last year by Harlingen South.

“Goals for team this year are definitely to make it further in playoffs,” Alaniz said. “Work together and communicate better as a team.”

“We look smoother as a team,” added first baseman Mellinda Veloz. “Look like we know what we’re doing.”

Sophomore pitcher Arlette Hernandez will be back in the circle after a tremendous freshman campaign.

As a freshman, she struck out more than 300 batters. Hernandez was named District 31-6A’s most valuable player.

“The goal for team this year is communicate and get together as a team so we can win each game we come against,” Hernandez said. “Personally, I’d like to throw my hardest out there and have my girls backs.”

One of La Joya’s key non-district matchups will be against former district foe PSJA North on Feb. 14.