Austgen takes over at Deer Park
By Jason McDaniel
Carrie Austgen didn't plan to leave North Shore.
She was just two years into her stay with the Lady Mustangs and wanted to continue growing the program, but some opportunities are too good to pass up and this was definitely one of those.
The former San Jacinto College coach was named Mary Siebert's replacement at Deer Park on June 2, giving her the lead role at one of the top high school softball programs in the area if not the state.
It's hard to leave a program that you feel like you were in the process of building, but at the same time, the Deer Park job is one of the top jobs in the state of Texas," Austgen said. You have Brazoswood, Pearland, Deer Park, Elkins and the Katy schools, so it's an awesome softball position."
The position unexpectedly opened this year when Siebert, the Lady Deer's long time skipper, opted for retirement. She was considering it early in the school year and let Austgen know of her plans.
Needless-to-say, Austgen's interest was piqued.
I had no inklings of applying for Deer Park until Mary told me she was retiring because I didn't think that door was open," Austgen said. When she told she was going to retire I was like Really?' And I applied for that job 15 years ago before I went to the junior college market.
Sometimes things happen for a reason and I'm in the right place at the right time."
Austgen beat out 37 other applicants vying for the job, an indication of how coveted the Deer Park gig is. And it's not hard to see why the school district settled on Austgen over all the other candidates.
The 1983 graduate of Texas A&M, who played on the Aggies' 1982-83 national championship team, coached at San Jac for seven years.
She led the Gators to two regional titles and coached four All-Americans. Several of her former players are coaching, including Suzanne Schulgen (Morton Ranch) and Charity Rychlik (Kempner).
And before going to North Shore, she was a varsity assistant at Brazoswood when the Lady Buccaneers went to state in 2006.
She's hoping to use that experience to push Deer Park past Pearland, which narrowly ended the club's last two playoff runs, and she has plenty of talent to put to work toward achieving that goal.
Austgen's been getting to know her new players by watching them during summer ball, and she likes what she sees.
I've seen some feisty kids that get after it in play," Austgen said. You have Kirbie Ferrell, Gracie Aguirre they're awesome. You have Peaches (Alyssa Rangel), and she can pitch, and the thing is they hit a home run off her and she doesn't get rattled. What impressed me is she just stood out there and threw.
You also have good senior leadership in Kalli Schultea. She's leading a lot of the boards in the weight room."
Aguirre is a Pearland transfer who had to play junior varsity ball this past season. She adds immediate firepower to a group that also includes SS Alexis Garcia, 2B Lexi Fryar and C Courtney Mills.
Austgen said the summer softball schedule gives her the chance to scout her new players, which is important since she's only been on the job three weeks, but that's not her primary objective.
Basically it's more just watching them, getting to know them, seeing what they're doing, and then also evaluating at the same time," she said.
Instead, Austgen plans to make sure she knows as much as possible about each player, then worry about their positions later. That means some players could be changing positions next season.
I've identified the athletes," Austgen said. What positions they're going to play I won't know that until February or March. But we have a great number of athletes who can hit the ball, and that's exciting, and then there's pitching with Peaches coming back, Schultea and whoever's coming up from JV.
It's pretty exciting."
Outside of a possible position change or two, Austgen doesn't see herself changing much, at least not right away. She and Siebert are both veteran coaches out of a similar mold both intent on winning.
Coach Siebert and I were very much short game ballplayers, so the short game is still going to be there," Austgen said. I think we may do a little more hitting stuff. We both like to run the bases a whole lot.
The defensive style might change a little bit because I use a lot of different defenses, so the girls will have to learn and adjust, and then we'll see from there."
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