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Much of the hype in the athletics department this semester has been geared toward the addition of football to the University. But the softball team, the 2011 Great West Conference champion, has a chance to defend its title this season.
Despite the softball team losing five graduating seniors, two of whom were the Great West Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, the Huskies look to new leadership this season, which began on Feb. 21.
At the plate, sophomore outfielder Rebecca Rademacher, who had a .358 batting average last year and is the only returning player to have started all 59 games, will play a major role on the team. Senior pitcher Beth Evans, who had a 7-5 record with a 3.44 ERA last season, will lead the Huskies on the mound.
The Huskies added two transfers from Galveston College, junior pitchers Sarah Shotton and Lori Earl, both of whom could play key roles. The softball team also added four freshmen: catcher/first baseman Melissa Herman, shortstops Megan Selldin and Victoria Granchelli and third baseman/outfielder Michaela Granchelli. Softball head coach Mary-Ellen Hall said all four players will contribute in different ways and that this team has strong chemistry.
The softball team has nine returning letterwinners on the roster to help the 2012 campaign against a relatively weak conference that, besides the Huskies, had no teams with winning records last season. With the addition of the University of Nebraska at Omaha to the Great West, the Huskies will be tested, as the Mavericks have come off a 47-11 record in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
The Huskies were impressive in their first two games at McNeese State University, a future rival in the Southland Conference for the 2014 season, even though they lost both matches, losing 4-0 in the first game and 3-2 in the second.
Despite the high anticipation for a football season, the University should also acknowledge the softball team’s ability to potentially win back-to-back championships.