Softball season hasn’t started yet, but the women are already getting accolades.
The women’s softball team received two preseason first-place votes on the season and was tabbed to finish second behind McNeese State. McNeese nabbed every available first-place vote for them, since coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team. ACU finished second behind McNeese last year with a record of 20-7 in conference play.
Head coach Bobby Reeves said although the team may have had a target on its back, it’s a good thing, as it just encourages the players to raise their goals.
Although McNeese is the clear favorite, having won back-to-back Southland Conference Tournament titles, five of the 12 returning players earned all-conference selections . The picks include first-team selections senior Peyton Hendricks at shortstop, senior Holly Neese at second and senior Hannah Null at pitcher. Sophomore Tori Poullard at third and sophomore outfielder Braegan Hamilton were named to the second team.
Poullard said her all-conference selection is humbling, but she didn’t know until after all of her other teammates.
“All of my teammates saw it on Twitter, but I deleted the app so I couldn’t see it myself,” Poullard said. “But I’m in a group message, and that’s where it was sent to me.”
Tori said her father, who also was her coach growing up, taught her to be dedicated and have a hard work ethic.
“You know, I worked hard on this stuff,” she said. “I would show up to practice every day, Monday through Friday, and work hard, but even after that I would work 10 or 15 minutes after practice fielding ground balls or whatever needed to be done. Even on days we didn’t have practice I would go and work.”
Personal accolades aside, Tori said the team’s goal this year is clear – winning conference.
“We’re kind of underrated this year compared to McNeese,” Poullard said, “But I think we can do it. We have the team to be No. 1, and I definitely think, in my personal opinion, No. 2 in the conference is underrated for us.”
This will be the Wildcats first year of postseason eligibility, meaning a conference tournament title would earn them a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats start their season Feb. 9 at the UTSA Softball Classic at the University of San Antonio and begin conference play in Hammond, Louisiana, against Southeastern Louisiana on March 9-10.