Softball Prepares for Season Opener

Jacqueline Glenn, Staff Writer

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Following the leads of greats like Missouri S&T commit Anna Burke and strikeout-pitcher Jordyn Hendricks, the Tiger softball team has big cleats to fill.

The team graduated nine seniors last year, including both of its pitchers. But coach Lori Blade is confident that returning members will step up to bat.

“This is a great group of kids, and I’m interested to see where they are, especially with so many open positions that we have,” coach Blade told the Edwardsville Intelligencer. “We’ll get after it and see who is going to step up,”

Junior outfielder and Missouri S&T commit Ellie Viox said the team is ready; the work it has done in the offseason and into the present season will pay off.

“We’ve got a lot of talent returning as well as coming in,” Viox said. “The open spots are just opportunities for the many talented girls who have been working hard to get on the field.”

Junior Maria Smith, who plays both shortstop and third base, said that among the lessons she has learned from last year’s senior class is “to never take anything for granted.” Smith plans to utilize the knowledge she gained from playing with last year’s senior class in leading the team.

“The senior class was a team full of leaders who showed it all the time,” Smith said.

The Tigers will play Staunton on March 14 for their season opener. Smith said that the game will give the players a taste of the rest of the season.

“We are a young team, so right now we are just getting comfortable working out how everyone contributes to the team,” Smith said. “Hopefully this first game can show us where we are as a team so we can keep progressing.”

Thursday’s forecast, according to the weather channel, looks promising: heavy winds, but no thunderstorms and temperatures in the upper sixties. But it’s not just game day that Smith worries about; stormy skies mean lost practice time as well.

“(Weather) definitely limits what we can do in practice, and that’s just as important as our games, so it can play a big part of the season if it gets bad,” Smith said.

As for the rest of the season, the team hopes to win the SWC tournament and make it to state in the post-season.

“We are all giving our best to win as much as possible,” Viox said.