By David Parker
ONU’s softball team is ready to make an impact during their fall season. The team is coming off a successful spring season, which they finished with an overall record of 50-12.
According to junior Bethany Holaway, softball has eight weeks to practice in the fall semester, during which the team practices everyday. While the majority of the fall season consists of exhibition games, head coach Richie Richardson still emphasized their importance.
“We have four freshmen and one transfer, and this is an opportunity to see what our new players can do,” Richardson said. “I believe we need to establish winning consistently. Expectations are high, and we want to establish them in the fall as well.”
Richardson is confident the team can do so after they won the CCAC tournament and advanced to the NAIA tournament last spring.
“Our core is still intact. Players such as Jordan Reynolds, Katie Hannagan, Hannah Gardner, Molly Anderson, Bethany Holoway, Cheryl Sendzik and Kelly Blucker are returning. We still have a great core, and we have a team that should be one the best that we’ve put out.”
One of those players, senior Jordan Reynolds, had a very successful spring season, becoming the first Lady Tiger to receive the NFCA Golden Shoe Award.
“She’s one of the top players in the nation this season,” said Richardson. “She’s a rare player who combines speed with power.”
While Reynolds is happy with last year’s accomplishments, she said she is ready to seek more.
“We expect to win conference and go to the national tournament,” Reynolds said. “Our goal is to contend for a national title.
“So far, we’ve seen some good things from everyone. There are high expectations for everyone, including freshmen, and we think we can make it farther [than last year].”
“We expect to be ranked in the top ten of the NAIA. This team wants more, and we feel like we have a chance to win this thing,” he said.
Richardson said he also appreciates their academic strength.
“This year, we’ve had eight NFCA scholar athletes, which is the highest number we’ve ever had in a year. It’s great that as good as they are on the field, they’re able to balance [athletics and academics] as well as they do.”
The team will play their last fall game on Sept. 29 at home, a doubleheader that will begin at 3 p.m. It will be their last opportunity to show what they can do in a game before the official season starts in February.