GEORGETOWN, Texas - With the start of the 2013 season just over a week away, Head Coach Angela Froboese and the SU softball team takes aim at a return to the NCAA Regionals with an onslaught of offense.
"We expect to be vying for the conference championship again this year with one of the top offensive teams around," said Coach Froboese. "We have been disappointed with our finish the last two years even though we have played well. We want to give ourselves a shot to get back at Regionals this year."
Coach Froboese may have just two seniors to help her accomplish this task, but still has a team rich in talent and experience. Seven starters return to the field for the 2013 season, headed up by seniors Abigail O'Connor and Jessica Bryant.
O'Connor has been a three-year starter behind the plate for the Pirates and that experience will be crucial as O'Connor supports a young pitching staff. "Abi provides great stability for us behind the plate, something that will be very important to us this year."
Bryant has played multiple positions for the Pirates and will continue to move around the field this season. "Jessica has played everywhere for us in the infield and will continue to, rotating between second and first," states Coach Froboese. "She will be an integral part of helping us on the right side."
Four juniors, Tessa Galloway, Karen Ramirez and Kayla Irvin, will deliver support and additional leadership this season. Galloway leads the way offensively. As an Honorable Mention All-SCAC selection last season, Tessa has a lethal presence at the plate and can ignite SU with one swing of the bat. "Tessa has been incredibly consistent at the plate and I feel that will continue," shared Froboese. "She also is a great leader in the outfield and holds down the right side."
Ramirez is a speedy infielder that will do whatever it takes to make the play, will continue to do so as she moves to short stop from second base. "Karen is such a hard worker and leads by example and will do a great job at short," stated Froboese.
Irvin makes the biggest change of the group as she returns to the mound for her junior season in addition to her duties at the plate. A 2011 First Team All-SCAC pick, Coach Froboese is looking for big things out of Irvin in both settings. "Kayla is going back to the mound for us and has done a great job of getting back into the swing of things, really taking command of the ball. At the plate, she is returning quickly to her all-conference form."
Elizabeth Blummer, Second Team All-SCAC pick last year Ashleigh Scott, Linsay Biggers and Tamara Belilove comprise the sophomore class that will really be the difference makers this season. "Now that they have a year under their belt they will be seeing a lot of vital playing time this year," said Froboese. "We are looking for them to lead the way and we need them to step up for this year."
Joining the Pirates are nine newcomers that will help fill in the gaps and provide the gas to the fire. "They are learning quickly and we are going to need some of them to step up for us and fill some holes. The nice thing is that there are quite a few of them that, on any given day, can do that. [The coaching staff] is really excited about how far they have come and the part they can play for us."
While the 2013 schedule doesn't pit the Pirates against the top national contenders as in past years, Southwestern will still have ample opportunity to gauge their standing in the nation this year. They open the season with George Fox who shares a conference with two of the top teams in the nation. "[George Fox] faces tough competition all the time," said Froboese. "They will give us a good test from the get-go because of the competition that they play."
Contests against Concordia (TX), Hardin-Simmons, Texas Lutheran, Schreiner and Howard Payne early in the year will also provide SU with insight into their chance at Regionals. "The American Southwest Conference is a tough conference as well and playing those teams will give us an idea of where we are nationally."
While hitting is the strongest asset Coach Froboese has in her arsenal, her deep, albeit young, pitching staff will also be an advantage. "They have really done a good job of stepping up. What we lack in innings we will make up by the end of the year. Our staff will be just that, a staff, and we will win games with a group effort whereas in years past it has really been more of a one individual at a time."
Overall, fans can expect to see one of the hardest working teams in the nation on the field day in and day out this season. "This is one of the hardest working teams that I have ever worked with. They get out there and work hard without complaints and there is a lot of optimism. We are looking to have a great year."