By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
The ACU softball team is on a mission. Tabbed by the infamous pre-season poll as only the sixth-best team in the Lone Star Conference South Division, the Wildcats are ready to prove critics wrong.
The Wild-cats will kick off the 2004 season under the direction of first-year coach and former ACU standout Chantiel Wilson. She and her assembly of softball players will begin their spring campaign at Wells Field 5 p.m. Monday in a doubleheader against St. Edwards.
“We want to let people know that the polls were wrong,” the first-year coach said.
Wilson said she anticipates a fun and successful year for the Wildcats.
“I am a little nervous but more excited,” Wilson said. “We have a great group of girls who are easy to work with and make it fun to come to practice.”
ACU plans on playing a more aggressive style of softball this spring, focusing on hit-and-runs and working on executing every play. Wilson said she wants to field a competitive team who can hit, bunt, run and play defense.
In college softball, defense is considered a requirement if a team plans on winning ballgames. With so many great hitters in today’s game, pitching and defense are considered deciding factors in who wins and who loses each game.
During the off-season, ACU added pitcher Lacey Beaston to help solidify its pitching staff. Beaston, a junior transfer from Leona Valley, Calif., is expected to start opening day for the Wildcats and pitch in more games than not.
“Lacey is a great addition,” Wilson said. “She pitches a lot of off-speed stuff and can be used in back-to-back game. We see her as a very effective pitcher.”
Another addition to the team is freshman pitcher Allison Crouse. The North Richland Hills native pitched successfully in high school at Fort Worth Christian.
Returning starters include senior centerfielder Michele Gereaux and junior first baseman Katie Bryan, also returning are seniors infielder J.D. Williams and catcher Heather Hicks.
Wilson said with her returning starters, as well as some of the new players, offense should be a position of strength for the Wildcats in 2004.
“Offensively we believe we have one of the strongest lineups in the conference,” Wilson said. “Looking at the lineup, any player from one through six could probably bat third or fourth in any other lineup.”
Polls are great and projections are wonderful, but Wilson said her team is simply ready to hear those sacred words only heard on the diamond: play ball.
“I can’t wait to start playing,” Wilson said. “I am expecting some good things from this team. We are motivated, we are excited and we are prepared to win a lot of games this year.”