The 2018 softball season begins this weekend as the Wildcats prepare for its first few tests of the season at the UTSA softball classic in San Antonio.
Tournament play opens Friday at 11:30 a.m. against Seton Hall. The Pirates battled last season and finished with a competitive 22-25-1 record but struggled in conference play, going 7-14.
Two games against Southern Illinois, winners of the Missouri Valley Conference last year, will follow Seton Hall at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
The Wildcats will then square off with UTSA at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and finish Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with conference foe Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The A&M Corpus Christi Islanders struggled last season, posting a 12-36 with a dead last 4-20 in Southland play.
“I have always scheduled tough opponents during tournaments. I believe it prepares us for conference,” head coach Bobby Reeves said.
The team will also compete in the national champion Oklahoma tournament and the Baylor tournament.
The Wildcats revamp after the graduation of Casey-May Huff, Kaleigh Singleton and Alli Spivey and the departure of talented freshmen pitcher Sidney Holman.
Retooling the lineup defensively will be a key focus, but the return of seniors Holly Neese, Brianna Barnhill and Peyton Hedrick, who combined for 28 home runs and 121 RBI’s, will balance out the new faces by providing a stout offense.
“Each year we work hard – this year we get a little taste,” Hedrick said. “That’s what we want. We get a chance to play those big teams to win that conference tournament. It’s what we’ve been working for since August.”
Redshirt senior pitcher Hannah Null will return to the mound this weekend after grabbing 12 wins in 27 starts last season with a 2.94 ERA.