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
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.
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.