The softball and baseball teams begin their seasons on Feb. 9 and 16 respectively as they both seek to improve from last season’s results and adjust to new rosters.
The softball team starts out at the Lion Classic in Hammond, Louisiana, coming off a highly successful season, posting a 40-20 overall record and winning their regional round of the National Invitational Softball Championship.
The Lady Owls go into the 2018 season as the top-ranked team in the preseason Atlantic Sun Conference polls, chosen over defending champions USC Upstate. Five players who earned postseason accolades from the ASUN, including ASUN Freshman of the Year Alley Cutting, are returning to this year’s roster.
Second-year coach Pete D’Amour is excited, yet focused on the season ahead.
“It’s nice to be recognized for the direction we’re trying to get this program pointed in, but we need to keep our focus on getting better every day,” D’Amour said. “We’re pleased with the work our players put in over break, and we’re ready to get the season rolling and see how it goes.”
Cutting was a constant pitcher last season, finishing with 20 wins and throwing 16 complete games in her debut year. Gaining All-Conference honors, Cutting struck out 186 batters and was voted as ASUN preseason co-pitcher of the year.
“We’re excited about the preseason award for Alley,” D’Amour said. “We’re looking forward to her continuing to get better and better not only this year but in the years ahead.”
The returning offensive stars will also be vital for the softball team. The outfield trio of Noelle Winkles, Olivia Tamewitz and Hannah Thomason are the engine of the team’s offensive machine.
Last season, they each averaged more than a .340 batting average and had a knack for stealing bases. Their contributions will be imperative for a successful season.
Baseball starts out the season hosting the University of Connecticut at Stillwell Stadium, coming off an up-and-down 2017 season that saw a fair share of exciting wins and tough losses.
The Owls finished 25-32, down from previous seasons. As always the case, baseball is the longest sports season, and one season can be very different from the next.
Despite all the change that can occur within a baseball season in terms of team form and morale, the one constant that always makes the Owls competitive is longtime manager Mike Sansing. As recently as 2014, he led the Owls to the NCAA Super Regionals and an ASUN Conference Championship. In 2016, the Owls were the regular season champions of the ASUN.
Five important offensive players return last year after coming off excellent seasons at the plate, but the top two hitters from last season are gone, leaving it up to a new crop of players to lead the way.
Redshirt-senior Taylor Allum, who led the Owls in home runs last season with 15, will be asked once again to smash the ball out of the park. Allum also led the team with 46 runs batted in.
Under Sansing, the Owls will be in safe hands and stand a chance to be a force in their conference.