Luke Hare, Staff Writer
While the season has yet to start, the women’s softball team is ready to play. They have leadership, experience, and one of the most underrated qualities: depth.
The Saints are well-prepared at every position and every player is ready to play, even if they are underclassmen. A key component for this year will be 11 returning players from last year’s team. They will also have 11 upperclassmen, thanks to a few transfers. The Saints will be returning both catchers from last year with Julia Lucas and Devyn Connolly heading into their second year with the Saints. Also returning this year will be second team all-conference pitcher Lauren Maley who had a team leading 3.00 ERA last season. Sabrina Hicks and third baseman Nicki DeHan will also return to the team for another year. While the team lost first team all-conference outfielder/pitcher, Lindsay Miller after her graduation last year, they will be returning starters with Regan Byrd and three-time all-conference senior Lauren Diuco.
With the Saints losing three full-time starters from last year, and adding three new coaches, there have been a lot of new things that have been implemented since the fall, and the team looks to build off those heading into the season.
“With having new coaches and players, I think that we are set up for a lot of success for this season and for the future,” said senior outfielder Diuco. “Not many schools in our conference have access to the depth that our new players bring to the team and the resources that having a four-person coaching staff brings. Like with any team, you have to work through the kinks until it becomes second nature, and I feel like we’re really close to where we want to be.”
Hard work in practice will come into play very soon. The Saints will start off the season with three tournaments on the road, heading south with a tournament in Las Vegas the first weekend of February, followed by a trip to the desert in Arizona. They will finish pre-season non-conference play with a tournament at Concordia before heading into league play starting March 8 against Montana State-Billings. While the Saints were picked 6th in the GNAC pre-season poll, they believe they are capable of ranking higher than that if they can build off their depth and experience from previous years.
“We do have a lot of upperclassmen experience and I think that it’s a really good thing,” said Diuco. “We understand the competition in the GNAC and we know exactly what to expect when conference play starts. You don’t always get this type of sisterhood and these experiences all the time. I expect us to win a conference championship and move forward in the regional tournament; I think everyone on the team does.”