Lonni Alameda Talks FSU 2017

On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez talks to Florida State Seminoles Head Coach Lonni Alameda about the high expectations entering the 2017 season.

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Lonni Alameda taken Florida State to WCWS 2 times in last 3 seasons.

Alameda enters her 9th season coaching the Noles coming off second trip in three seasons to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series reaching the semifinals for the third time in school history and ending with a 55-10 record with a No. 4 national ranking, which tied for the highest final NFCA ranking ever for FSU.

Alameda has led the Seminoles to ACC Championship titles in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Among the topics Alameda talks about include :

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Jessica Burroughs leads Noles Pitching staff.(Photo Courtesy of FSU)
  • Expectations of 2017 season with almost entire team back from WCWS appearance.
  • Learning from experience in Oklahoma City in 2016
  • Depth on the roster on offense and pitching.
  • Being the target in the ACC and in the country
  • Jessica Burroughs leading the pitching staff
  • Leaders passing on the tradition from senior class to senior class under Alameda.
  • Being Head Coach in the NPF with USSSA Pride
  • Being involved with Canadian National team in 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
  • Softball back in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

Interview with Lonni Alameda Episode 74

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Alex Powers leads deep Offense attack ( Photo Courtesy of Tallahassee Democrat)

Alameda won ACC Coach of the Year for the fourth straight season in 2016 as Jessica Burroughs and Alex Powers earned ACC Pitcher and Player of the Year honors, respectively in the ACC. FSU set an ACC record with six members on the All-ACC First Team as Burroughs and Powers were joined by Ellie Cooper, Meghan King, Morgan Klaevemann and Jessica Warren. Burroughs, Powers and Warren were named NFCA All-Americans, marking the sixth time that FSU had three All-Americans in the same season.

2017 is the first time in program history the Noles return three All-Americans from a previous season.

Alameda spent summer of 2016 being the Head Coach of USSSA Pride in 2016 leading them to the best record in the NPF in regular season and took them to NPF Championship Series before falling to the Chicago Bandits in 3 games for the championship.  Balancing multiple coaching jobs is nothing new for Alameda.

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Lonni Alameda coached USSSA Pride in 2016 in the NPF.(Photo Courtesy USSSA)

Alameda helped the development of Canada’s National team from 2004 to 2008 aiding Canada up until the 2004 Summer Olympics and resumed as an assistant following the  2005 season when Alameda was  the Head Coach at UNLV. In the summer of 2006, Canada qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, after its strong showing in the World Championships. Alameda spent the summer of 2008 with the Canadian team which ended its quest for the gold with a fourth-place finish at the Beijing Olympic Games.

 

Frank Griffin Talks 2017 Hatters

On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez chats with Stetson Hatters Head Coach Frank Griffin about the upcoming Stetson Hatters 2017 season. Griffin entering his  21st year as head coach of the Stetson softball program.

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Frank Griffin begins his 21st year at Stetson in 2017

Griffin has 898 career victories during his 27 seasons of coaching softball which currently ranks him 24th among active NCAA Division I coaches and 38th on the all-time Division I coaches list.

During his 20 years at Stetson, Griffin has led the Hatters to 673 wins, 18 appearances in the A-Sun Softball tournament, two regular season championships, two conference tournament titles and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Among the topics Griffin talks about in the interview include:

  • Experience returning in the pitching staff in 2017
  • Overall outlook of the 2017 Hatters season
  • 2017 Schedule
  • A-Sun Conference outlook
  • Having his coaching staff together for a long time with Vanessa Bataille & J.J. Payette.
  • Advice Griffin would give to people going into coaching softball
  • Renovations upgrades to Patricia Wilson Field

Frank Griffin Interview Episode 73

The Hatters are coming off a 30-24 season in 2016 and will be led offensively by Senior second baseman Jessie TenBroeck  and senior leftfielder Kelsey Waters who were each selected to the  A-SUN 2017 preseason all-conference team.  TenBroeck was voted as one of the league’s Preseason Defensive Players of the Year.

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Jessie Ten Broeck leads Hatters on offense and defense.(Photo Courtesy of Stetson )

TenBroeck batted .343 in 2016 with 59 hits, 30 runs scored, and 33 stolen bases in 2016  earning first team all-conference honors. Waters also earned first team all-conference honors in 2016 after batting .308 with seven doubles, two triples, a home run, and 16 RBI.

The Hatters return experience in the circle with pitchers Chelsea Hostetler, Curstin Taylor, Brooke Hutto, and Tori Perkins all return from last season.

Perkins made A-SUN All Freshman team last season and was tied for team lead in wins with 12 with Hutto who also made all-Freshman team last season.

This season, Griffin added former UCF standout hitter Jessica Ujvari as a volunteer coach. Ujvari won the 2015 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year at UCF played 3 seasons at UCF (2014-2016) returns to the A-Sun Conference where Ujvari played her first season in 2013 at USC UpState.

Ujvari joins an experience staff that includes Associate Head Coach Vanessa Bataille who entering her 18th year at Stetson and J.J Payette who begins her 11th season with Hatters on coaching staff after playing for Griffin for previous four years (2003-2006).

For more information on Hatters Softball, go to GoHatters.com and follow on twitter @StetsonSoftball

D2 Revue: Saint Leo

With the 2017 season rapidly approaching, we roll on with our D2 Revue by chatting with Saint Leo Head Coach and recent Hall of Fame inductee Erin Kinberger about the preseason favorites in the Sunshine State Conference. The Lions enter the season ranked #17 in the preseason NFCA Polls after going 39-8 in 2016 and winning the SSC by going 21-3 in conference play. On this interview, we chatted with Coach Kinberger about

  • Handling the expectations of being the preseason SSC favorite
  • Where she was when she was announced to the St. Leo Hall of Fame
  • What made the 2016 team so special
  • The biggest key to continuing their success from last season
  • Having Sammy Marshall as a part of her talented staff

D2 Revue: Saint Leo Lions

The Coaching Staff:
Erin Kinberger has established herself as one of the rising stars in Division II by winning 72% of her games in her five seasons as coach at both her alma mater St. Leo and previously at Fort Hayes State. She has twice won coach of the year for the conference in 2013 and in 2016. Coming into this season, Coach Kinberger is 15 win away from 200 for her career. The Lions staff is dynamic and experienced with Maddie Holub, Al Affrunti, and grad assistant Sammy Marshall.

About Last Season:
Many feel that the framework for the 2016 season was laid at the end of 2015 where the Lions won 11 in a row to close out the season. That confidence would serve them well 2016 saw St. Leo produce one of the most dominant seasons in school and Sunshine State Conference history. The Lions started 37-1 as they cruised their second SSC championship in four years. The Lions were justly rewarded as they became only the second school in the last 10 seasons to sweep all four regular season awards. They set numerous school records including consecutive wins (23), conference wins (21) and batting average (.323).

W2W4 (Who 2 Watch 4): The majority of last year’s roster returns in 2017 including SSC Player of the Year Rachel Heath. Heath last season established herself as one of the dominant lead-off hitters in the country as she led the Lions in Runs (39), Hitting (.426) and also paced the conference with 38 stolen bases. Many feel that her game will be even better this season having Sammy Marshall as an assistant coach.

Someone who will benefit from Heath being on base so much will be Senior Samantha Ohmie. Last season, the Californian led St. Leo in Doubles (11, tied) and Home Rums (5) as well as walks (20). She will look to help continue pace the Lions offense and will get some help from catcher Sommer Pollard who came on strong late and will be asked to help support the Lions pitching staff

As strong as their hitting is, their pitching will look to again be one of the elite in the nation. In the first two seasons under Coach Kinberger, the Lions finished top-two in the nation in ERA. Leading this staff for 2017 will be reigning Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Adkins

She transferred in to the program last season and she became an immediate impact player by going 18-4 with a 0.99 ERA. She formed a dominant 1-2 punch with Alana Tabel as the Lions led the nation with a 0.93 ERA. Not only was Adkins named Pitcher of the Year, but she was also named an NFCA All-American. This year, she will be the anchor of the staff, but look for some big things from Samantha Tyler who will get the first shot at being that #2 starter. Last year, Tyler was 7-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 11 appearances.

 

Did You Know: In her first two seasons, Erin Kinberger already has the highest winning percentage (.796) in program history.

For more notes and news about the Lions, visit St. Leo Lions Softball and follow them on Twitter at @SaintLeoSB and @SaintLeoLions

 

Jenn Salling Talks Washington Softball

On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez talks with  Graduate Asst Manager Jenn Salling who played at Washington being part of the Huskies 2009 National Championship team.

Among the topics Salling discussed in the interview include :

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Jenn Salling played in the NPF from 2011-2014 winning NPF Championship with the USSSA Pride in 2013. (Photo Courtesy of USSSA)
  • Outlook for the 2017 Huskies
  • What got Salling into coaching?
  • Being part of 2009 National Championship team
  • Playing with Danielle Lawrie
  • Being part of Canadian National team
  • Playing in the NPF
  • Softball back in the Olympics

Jenn Salling Interview

Salling joined the Huskies program as a player  on April 2, 2009 after transferring from Oregon. Salling  started every game at shortstop to help Washington win their first National Championship in program history.

In  2010, Salling earned first team NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-America, All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10 honors. She was named a top-25 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.

As a senior in 2011, Salling  earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and left Washington ranked in the Husky career records for batting average (T-10, .342), triples (T-eighth, 7), slugging percentage (ninth, .543),  on-base percentage (fifth, .474).

Salling would go on to play in the NPF as Salling was selected 3rd overall in the 2011 NPF Draft by the USSSA Pride where Salling played with from 2011-2013. Salling was part of the Pride’s 2013 NPF Championship.  Salling played 2014 season with the Pennsylvania Rebellion.

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Salling is part of Canadian Softball team. Been involved since 2006 (Photo Courtesy of Canada Softball)

Salling left the NPF after 2014 season. Salling decided to return to Washington  joining the coaching staff as its graduate assistant coach in the fall of 2015. Salling still plays as a member of the Canadian National Team which she has been involved with since 2006. Salling was part of Canadian National team that participated in Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Among the highlights of her career with Canada, Salling   won the gold medal in the 2015 Pan American Games.

Washington coming off a 2016 season where the Huskies finished 39-15 advancing to the Super Regionals before falling at Alabama. The Husky program is celebrating their 25th season as an NCAA sport under 13th year head coach Heather Tarr as they enter the 2017 season.

The Huskies offense will be led by  Ali Aguilar,Casey Stangel and Taylor Van Zee.

Washington’s pitching will be led by duo of Madi Schreyer and Taran Alvelo in the circle.

For more on the Washington Huskies softball program. Go to GoHuskies.com  and follow on twitter @UWSoftball.

 

 

D2 Revue: Rollins College

On the latest edition of our D2 Revue, we chat about the Rollins Tars with members of the 2016 team Niki Fogle, Jule Kranz, and new assistant coach Brittany Johnson to talk about their postseason run and the 2017 season.

  • The adjustment Brittany has made from playing to coaching
  • What are Niki and Jule up to since hanging up the cleats
  • What made the 2016 team so special
  • What it was like to finally make it to Super Regionals
  • Why is Rollins the most hated school in the Sunshine State Conference

D2 Revue: Rollins College

The Coaching Staff: Michelle Frew begins her 21st season as the head of the Rollins program which is the 2nd only to Florida Southern’s Chris Bellato for tenure in the Sunshine State Conference. During her time in Winter Park, Coach Frew has amassed an impressive resume:

742 Wins (860 All-Time Career Wins)

10 NCAA Regional Bids (Including 9 in the last 10 years)

4 Sunshine State Conference Championships (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014)

3x Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year (1999, 2010, 2011)

Her staff this season will comprise of her husband Steve Frew and former All-American Brittany Johnson as her assistants.

About Last Season: The 2016 season was one that will go down as one of the most memorable in program history. Rollins faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation which included matchups with powers Valdosta State and reigning national champion North Georgia. After starting the season 4-3-1, the Tars got hot winning 29 of their next 33 games. During that stretch, historical milestones were reached with Niki Fogle picking up her 100th career victory while fellow senior Tiffany Osmanski set a new school record with a 20-game hitting streak. At the close of the year, Fogle would make more history by breaking the school record for victories in a road win at the University of Tampa.

The Tars would sweep their way through the South 2 Regional in Valdosta, Georgia which included a victories over the host Valdosta State Blazers and West  Florida to advance to their first ever Super Regional round. The sweep including a walk-off victory over the host Blazers before winning 2-0 against UWF to move on where they fell two straight to eventual national champion North Alabama.

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W2W4 (Who 2 Watch 4): Rollins will be paced by one of the top leadoff hitters in the region in Senior 1B Hailee Keisling. Last season, she led the Tars in Runs (44) and Walks (24) while hitting .303 en route to being named to the Sunshine State Conference First Team for the second time in her career. Keisling is on pace to join Christine Roser as the only players in school history to score 100 runs, have 100 hits, draw 100 walks, and drive in 100 runs. Anchoring the middle of the order will be another senior in CF Chelesa Reed. 2016 was a breakout season for the Lake Mary native as she led Rollins with a .350 average, 62 hits, and 15 doubles. She was also a threat on the base-paths with 23 steals in 24 chances as she was named 2nd Team All-SSC.

With the loss of nine letterwinners from 2016, look for a lot of new faces to make immediate impacts for the Tars. Two names to keep an eye for will be Chandler Middlebrook who transferred in from Florida Gulf Coast and Rachel Miner who last year was a solid bat for conference-foe Nova Southeastern.

Pitching wise, Coach Frew will lean on a young, but talented staff to keep the Tars in contention. Sophomore Grace Street will be asked to take on a bigger role for the Tars this season. In her rookie season, Street went 11-3 with a 1.81 ERA while also hitting .357 at the plate with 14 RBI’s. Fellow sophomore Erin Fortney will look to continue her progression after making seven appearances and holding opponents to a .177 batting average.

 

Did You Know: Rollins became the third team five seasons to advance to the South Super Regional as a sixth seed. (Florida Southern in 2012, Shorter in 2015). All three of those times, they were eliminated by the team who eventually went to win the National Championship.

For more notes and news about the Tars, visit Rollins Softball and follow them on Twitter at @RollinsSports as well on Instagram @RollinsSoftball

Photos by Jim Houge of Jim Houge Photography

 

D2 Revue: Grand Valley State

Our D2 Revue softball extravaganza continues as we shift over to Midwest and talk with the NFCA Preseason #6 Grand Valley State. We had a chance to talk with Head Coach Dana Callihan about her Lakers heading into 2017.

  • The comfort of having a balanced line-up with no one true “superstar”
  • Handling games on turf and then playing on grass in Clermont in March
  • The grind of playing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC)
  • How her time as a player and assistant coach under Doug Woods has influenced her
  • Expectations of building off their run in 2016

D2 Revue: Grand Valley State

The Coaching Staff:
Entering her third season as head coach, Dana Callihan understands what it takes to wear the GV on the chest as she herself was a former player and assistant coach under Doug ‘Doc’ Woods. Her first two seasons have produced 75 wins including 43 last year on the way to Denver, Colorado. 2016 saw eight Lakers receive all GLIAC selections which tied for the most in school history including four 1st Team selections. Her staff this season will comprise of Jen Rivera and Ryan Schalk.

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About Last Season:Last season was one that Laker fans will remember for years to come as GVSU made it back to the Division 2 WCWS for the 2nd time in four seasons. The road to Denver wasn’t always easy as the Lakers went through the rigorous GLIAC finishing runner-up with a 21-5 mark. Their road to the postseason started in Indianapolis for the Midwest 1 Region tournament. They knocked off the second-ranked Greyhounds and All-American Morgan Foley before beating Trevecca Nazarene twice to advance to the Super Regionals. Standing between them and the Rocky Mountains as GLIAC foe Wayne State. Having to travel again to extend their season, the Lakers won two straight to advance to Denver. The Lake

W2W4 (Who 2 Watch 4): GVSU will have plenty of strong returners back from last seasons WCWS team headed by Senior Ellie Balbach . Last season she proved to be a force at the plate and in the circle for the Lakers. Ellie led the team in hitting (.353), hits (65), doubles (16), and slugging percentage (.522) while going 8-4 with a 2.39 ERA. Balbach was named 2nd Team NFCA Midwest Region and for the 2nd straight year 1st Team All-GLIAC. It was Balbach who did most of the work that sent the Lakers to Denver by hitting a homer and shutting out Wayne State 1-0 in Game 2 of the Midwest Super Regionals.

Joining Ellie as a top returner for GVSU is fellow senior Jenna Lenza Like her teammate, Lenza was also named 1st Team All-GLIAC for the 2nd straight year and 2nd Team NFCA Midwest Region. 2016 saw the Orland Hills, Illinois product hit .345 while finishing in Top 10 in the GLIAC in seven different offensive categories including Walks (29) and Total Bases (86). Their strength in numbers mindset will prove to be vital as they seek to replace their leading run producer in McKenze Supernaw. Look for Kaylie Rhynard to have a bigger role offensively in her junior year. She hit .333 last year as a sophomore and was a perfect 21-21 in stolen bases.

Pitchwise, the Lakers will have strong support behind their offense led by Balbach and 2016 GLIAC Freshman of the Year Allison Lipovsky 2016 saw Allison lead Grand Valley State with a 0.95 ERA while going 11-1 on the season. She allowed only 13 earned runs all season as she held opponents to a .180 batting average. Courtney Reinhold will also be there to help anchor the Lakers staff. In her sophomore season, Reinhold went 10-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 16 starts.

 

Did You Know: Coach Callahan served as an assistant coach for Doug ‘Doc’ Woods during his tenure as head coach where she was a part of the first two WCWS appearances in 2002 and 2013.

For more notes and news about the Lakers, visit Grand Valley State Softball and follow them on Twitter at @GVSUSoftball as well as @GVSULakers

Photos by Doug Witte, Grand Valley State Athletics

Ruben Felix Talks Ole Miss Softball

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Ruben Felix been at Ole Miss since 2015 (Photo Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics)

On this edition of the In The Circle, Eric Lopez and Victor talk to Ole Miss Softball’s Associate  Head Coach Ruben Felix about the Rebels 2017 season. Among the topics Fliex discusses include.

  • How does Ole Miss handle success after making after making NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history in 2016.
  • Working for Rebels Head Coach Mike Smith.
  • What players to look for in 2017
  • What it is like working with Taryne Mowatt
  • Coaching in Major League Baseball
  • What it was like being part of USA Baseball coaching staff in 2009 World Baseball Classic.
  • Coaching in Softball vs Coaching Baseball
  • What would Ruben apply from Baseball to Softball and apply from Softball to Baseball?

Interview with Ruben Felix

Ole Miss returns 14 players from last year’s squad that finished No. 24 in the final ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll, and welcomes 10 newcomers to the 24-person roster.

The Rebels  opens the season on Feb. 10-12 at the Easton invitational in Fullerton, California. After 15-straight on the road to open the season in tournament play, Ole Miss will host 14 in-a-row in Oxford, with the home opener slated for March 1 against Louisiana Tech. Ole Miss opens SEC play at home on March 17th against Texas A&M.

Felix came to Ole Miss prior to the 2015 season after four seasons as the assistant coach & recruiting coordinator at UCF. In two of his last three seasons at UCF, Felix helped the Knights advance to the NCAA tournament (2012,2014).

Prior to UCF, Felix was coaching in Major League Baseball which included two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and three seasons with the Cleveland Indians as an assistant coach.

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Ruben Felix was part of USA Coaching staff in 2009 (Photo Courtesy of Ruben Felix)

In 2009, while coaching in MLB for the Baltimore Orioles, Felix was asked to be on staff for Team USA Baseball for the World Baseball Classic. While with Team USA Baseball in the World Baseball Classic.Felix got to coach MLB All-Stars of the like of Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedrioa, Chipper Jones, Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun, Jake Pevy, Kevin Youkilis, Jimmy Rollins, Adam Dunn, Brain McCann, Curtis Granderson and others. USA Baseball finished in fourth-place in the World Baseball Classic Tournament after losing to defending champions Japan in semi-finals at Dodgers Stadium.

In case you missed it last summer on June 29th We had a chance to talk to Taryne Mowatt about joining the Rebels and help lead the Rebels to program record 41 wins. You can listen to that interview right here. Mowatt helped the Rebels pitching staff improve from 4.30 ERA in 2015 to 3.26 in 2016.

For all Ole Miss Softball news and information, go to OleMissSports.com and follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissSoftball, on Facebook at Ole Miss Softball and on Instagram at Instagram.com/olemisssoftball.

 

 

 

Marcie Hickey Talks UNF 2017 Season

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Eric Lopez previews the 2017 North Florida Ospreys season with Head Coach Marcie Hickey, who is enters her 9th season at North Florida as the program’s all-time leader in wins, talks to Lopez about the following.

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  • Who are some of the players to look for this season?
  • Outlook for 2017 season
  • Impact Asst Coach Jeff Conrad made on the offense.
  • Hiring Shelby Turnier to be the pitching coach
  • Breaking down UNF’s schedule
  • The outlook of the A-Sun Conference.
  • The Growth of the Program.

Interview with Marcie Hickey

The Ospreys enter 2017  returning 11 players including Sophomores Navia Penrod and Minnie Cocuzza who earned All-Conference accolades as freshmen.  Among the new faces in 2017 include Kayla McGory who is a freshman infielder out of Tampa, Florida.

The Ospreys schedule is one of the toughest in the country taking on eight teams from last year’s NCAA Tournament, including Alabama and Florida State who played in 2015 Women’s College World Series on the road.  The Ospreys also travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators.

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Turnier enters her first season as Asst Coach at UNF

The big news during the off-season was Hickey hiring of Shelby Turnier to the coaching staff. Turnier joins the Ospreys  after a stand out pitching career with UCF becoming the school first ever All-American and all-time winningest pitcher in school history, leading the Knights to three NCAA Tournament berths (2014-2016) and a successful summer with the Chicago Bandits in the NPF helping the Bandits win the National Pro Fastpitch Championship.

You can listen to Turnier’s thoughts on coming to UNF and winning the NPF Championship with the Bandits right here from our interview in December.

Turnier is reunited with Jeff Conrad who was at UCF  serving as the Volunteer Assistant Coach for the 2015 season helping UCF win the American Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament titles for the first time in school history.

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Jeff Conrad enters his 2nd season at UNF

Hickey hopes Turnier can turn around pitching staff like Conrad did with the offense in 2016 when the Ospreys  finish in the top three of the Atlantic Sun with a .274 team batting average which was the highest offensive output recorded by a UNF team in the last eight seasons.

UNF will open the season on February 9th in Boca Raton against the Florida Atlantic Owls. For more information on Ospreys Softball check out UNFOspreys.com & on Twitter @OspreySB.

D2 Revue Southern Arkansas

Our D2 Revue softball extravaganza continues as we shift over to another team who had a magical 2016 season and is one of the early preseason favorites to make it Salem, Virginia for the 2017 Division 2 Women’s College World Series. On this edition of the Revue, we are joined by Southern Arkansas Head Coach Jason Anderson to discuss his Lady Muleriders and how they can get back to the Division 2 Women’s College World Series. We discuss with Coach Anderson:

  • The grinding schedule inside the Great American Conference (GAC)
  • Playing in-front of a packed house at newly renovated Lady Mulerider Field
  • Their early season schedule preparing for GAC action and being the preseason favorite
  • What one thing Coach Anderson would change about college softball
  • Expectations of building of their magical 2016 season

D2 Revue: Southern Arkansas

The Coaching Staff: Jason Anderson has quickly established himself as one of the top names in Division II in just two seasons at Southern Arkansas. After winning 26 games in his first season, 2016 saw the Lady Muleriders set a school record with 53 victories on their way to Denver in the WCWS. During his nine seasons as a head coach, he has produced big offense numbers and wins. Among his successes includes…..

4 Seasons with 50+ victories

386 Career victories (Central Baptist College (AR), UNA, NW Oklahoma State, SAU)

35 All-Conference Selections

He and his staff last year were the Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year. His coaching staff is young and dynamic with Kayla English, Autumn Suydam, and former SAU pitcher Kimmy Beasley all of whom will be in the first year as assistants under Coach Anderson.

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SAU recorded a school record 53 wins in 2016 en route to their 1st Division 2 WCWS appearance (Photo by Southern Arkansas Athletic Department)

About Last Season: 2016 proved to be the greatest season in Lady Mulerider history as they finished 4th in the final NFCA polls after going 53-11. The framework for that season was laid early on as they started 24-2 which included winning their first seven games via the mercy rule. Their success continued into GAC play where they started 18-3 in route to a 33-8 record and second place behind Arkansas Tech. The postseason was a continuation of their success from the regular season. Battling from the losers bracket, they won twice versus Harding to win their second straight GAC Tournament championship. SAU earned hosting privileges for the Central 2 Regional where they swept their way to the Super Regionals which saw them knock out conference-foe Arkansas Tech two straight to punch their ticket to Denver.

W2W4 (Who 2 Watch 4): While SAU lost six starters from last year’s Central Region champions, the cupboard is certainly not bare. Senior Utility Maddie Dow will and Redshirt Junior Brook Goad will help lead the Lady Mulerider offense heading into 2017. Both Dow and Goad were named to the Fastpitch News Preseason D2 All-American Team. Dow was a rock in the middle of the lineup hitting .335 with 18 long-balls and 61 RBI’s. She currently is the SAU and Great American Conference All-Time leader in Home Runs with 52. That number also is the most among all active players in Division 2.

Goad was named All-American by the NFCA, D2CCA, and Hero Sports after a breakout season where she finished tied for second in the nation in homers with 23. She established a new school and conference record with those 23 taters as well as new school records with Runs (65), Total Bases (149) and Walks (52). Both her and Dow will look to help continue their offense production as they will be asked to help lead a team that lost eleven players from their 2016 roster.

In the circle (no pun intended), Kaylee Garner will look to lead SAU after an outstanding 2016. The Texas State transfer went 25-4 with a 2.11 ERA. She formed a potent combo with teammate Kimmy Beasley who will now serve as an assistant coach for the Lady Muleriders. Kaylee, who herself was named a Fastpitch News Preseason D2 All-American, will have some support with the return of Jill Roye who sat out all of 2016 due to injury and a crop of newcomers to the program.

Be sure to keep an eye on Redshirt Senior Catcher Tyler Casada who will help the SAU defense this season behind the plate. Her .989 fielding percentage led SAU in 2016 and helped anchor a staff to a 1.96 ERA which held opponents to a .206 batting average.

 

Did You Know: In her first start with Southern Arkansas, Kaylee Garner threw just the third perfect game in school history versus Lincoln in their season opening 8-0 win. Garner struck out 10 hitters and was named NFCA National Pitcher of the Week for her performance.

For more notes and news about  all things Lady Muleriders, visit Lady Muleriders Softball and follow them on Twitter at @SAUSoftball as well as @MuleriderSports & @JAnderson_Coach

D2 Reveue West Texas A&M

We take great pride in providing the best fans in the world the best coverage of the sport not only from Division 1 and NPF, but also Division 2. Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at some of the teams to watch heading into the 2017 season.

This first edition of the Revue, West Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Blaskowski joins Victor Anderson to discuss the Lady Buffs and their upcoming 2017 season.

  • How they faced a little adversity with the weather to start spring practice
  • Playing at Schaeffer Park where they’ve lead D2 in attendance three straight seasons
  • How his early schedule sets up his team for success in the Lone Star Conference
  • The biggest key to keeping his program fun and successful
  • Winning a national championship in 2014 and how it changed the program
  • Having former standout Lacey Taylor to his talented coaching staff

D2 Revue: West Texas A&M

The Coaching Staff: Coach B begins his twelfth season at the helm of one of the most successful programs in the entire nation. His team has amassed 424 victories during his tenure including

2014 National Championship

4 Lone Star Conference Championships

3 Lone Star Conference Tournament Titles

2 Appearances in the Division II Women’s College World Series (2014, 2016)

He is also the reigning Lone Star Conference and South Central Region Coach of the Year. His staff is among the best in the nation with Associate Head Coach Candace Abrams, Grad Assistant Jamie Edwards and Assistant Coach, former Lady Buff standout Lacey Taylor.

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West Texas A&M will look for their 4th straight LSC championship (Photo by West Texas A&M)

About Last Season: In the rich and storied history of Lady Buff Softball, 2016 might have been one of the greatest of them all. The season kicked off with a program-record 30 game winning streak which was also Lone Star Conference and South Central region records. They continued their dominance by clinching their 3rd straight conference championship with over two weeks remaining in the season. West Texas A&M was rewarded by hosting the South Central Regional at Schaeffer Park where they had to go the hard way via the loser’s bracket to advance to the Supers. In the Super Regionals, they took on a familiar foe in St. Mary’s, but Buff Nation and the offense proved to be too much as they advanced to Denver and the Division II Women’s College World Series. 2016 saw many records fall including best conference winning percentage (30-2, .938), best road record (19-1), and most home wins (35) among others.

W2W4 (Who 2 Watch 4): Offensively, the Lady Buffs have the bats to match anyone in the nation.  As a team, West Texas A&M had EVERY starter on the team hit at least .300 with nine hitting over .350. Leading the charge will be Junior All-American CF Ashley Hardin. Last season as a sophomore, Hardin finished second in the nation in both home runs (23) and RBI’s (81) while hitting a gaudy .392 for the season. She will look to continue her production in 2017 as she has the chance to potentially being one of the all-time greats at West Texas A&M. Hardin will have a strong supporting cast which includes Sophomore OF Brittany Cruz. All she did last year as a freshman was hit 15 dingers and drive in 67 runs. Did we mention she was doing all of this mainly as the #9 hitter? Look for Cruz to move up in the lineup and continue her production.

 

Pitching wise, Kilee Halbert will serve as the ace of this staff in 2017. Last season, she shined going 27-4 with a 2.11 ERA while leading a Lady Buffs staff that set school records in ERA (2.27), Shutouts (15), and fewest runs allowed (171). Halbert will have some strong teammates helping in the circle with Chelesa Skipper (5-1, 2.78 ERA) and Alexis Alfonso (10-0, 3.20 ERA) returning this season. Also, they will be boosted by the addition of transfer Kami Merrill from Nebraska-Kearney who will help solidify .

Did You Know: Since 2010, the Lady Buffs have won more games than any Texas team at the NCAA level with 338 (yes, it does include reigning Divison III National Champions Texas-Tyler who has amassed 304 victories)

For more news about West Texas A&M and all things Lady Buffs , visit Lady Buffs Softball and follow them on Twitter at @WTSoftball