Softball has an eye on SLC tournament

The softball team, headed by new coach Bob Brock, is coming into the season with high hopes and a lot of determination fueling its drive to conference this year. When Bobby Williams said he was serious about returning the softball program at Sam Houston State back to its former level of success, he found a highly qualified man to lead the Bearkats to a brighter future.Coach Brock said he thinks he has just the team to start that journey.With 14 returning players and eight talented newcomers to add to the squad, Brock could not say who is starting on Tuesday, when the team opens the season against Utah at home Feb. 12 at 1 pm. “I probably won’t make that decision until that morning,” Brock said. “They are all working so hard.”The ladies are making it tough on Brock to name starters because of their great work ethic, he said. Each girl is pushing the others to do her best, and they are having fun doing it.Brock said the team would build on each contest and “take it one day at a time.””We have to play each game as if it were a playoff game,” Brock said.The team will carry six pitchers this year, and fall play gave Brock an enlightened look at his hard-working staff, he said. “It was very beneficial to play in the fall. The pitchers made an improvement every time they went out,” Brock said. “This is a pitchers game.”Returning from last year with 7-4 record in 11 starts and a 2.69 ERA is Kim Dixon. She will come to the mound with two new pitchers backing her up. Also stepping in the pitchers circle will be Rachel Atzenhoffer. An injury last year kept the talent sidelined for a good amount of the season in 2001.Leading the way for the offense is April Bardwell, who hit .331 for the Kats last year, along with Brianna Kaiser, who went .263 last season.Brock says he is very impressed with the defense the team is showing. “We want to improve our defense percentage on the field,” he said. “We want to increase our batting stats. We want our pitchers to add to their stats. Everything is geared toward our main goal, to get to the tournament.”Newcomers bringing food to the table are Crissy Dileo and Katy Wardlow. Dileo, a freshman from San Diego, Calif., hit .425 with 27 doubles and 12 home runs last year for Scripps Ranch high school. Wardlow, a transfer from Blinn junior college played on the team that was runner up in the NJCAA playoffs in 2001.”There is a lot of competition at every position. We are almost to deep at some,” Brock said. “I can hardly wait to get to practices.”The team will work on their 20-34 overall record and the 2-25 standing in conference last year. “There are 22 of us out there and 22 of us are going to do it together,” Brock said.

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