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
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.
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)