With the start of a new semester now behind, spring sports are now coming out of hibernation and getting ready for their seasons to start. One such team, the softball team, hit the ground running with training and started practicing just as soon as they came back from the winter break.
Its first game is only a month after the start of school, but senior third baseman Kaylynn Sloat says that the team is pretty confident in its abilities.
“We have the talent, we have the work ethic, we have the coaches, and we have the staff. We just need to play to our ability,” said Sloat.
This will be the first time that the softball team has played since Mercer University switched conferences from the Atlantic Sun Conference to the Southern Conference, and Sloat says that the change brings some good for the team.
“I feel like the A-Sun was a harder conference than the SoCon will be, but there is still some good competition in the SoCon, only with fewer teams.”
This year also welcomes in a fairly new team for the Lady Bears, with only two seniors and a junior making up the seniority of the team. The rest are a “good mix” of freshmen and sophomores, said Sloat.
“I think last year, for me at least, I looked to the seniors. They were just really good leaders, and now it’s time for me and Riley [Carter] to fill that leadership role. It’s a good feeling and it puts pressure on yourself.”
Last year, the Mercer Women’s Softball Team went 39-19 overall. In the A-Sun, the Bears went 18-8 and lost in the Atlantic Sun Championship.
When asked whether Sloat believed that this would be the team’s year to stand out like football and basketball last year, she said yes.
“I really think so. Last year, we came really close… We should have went to the NCAA tournament, but to go to that you have to win conference, and we should have won that, too.”
Sloat says that the team’s strength comes from the fact that they all get along well, as well as coaches who understand strategy.
“[They’re] really good with not letting our defense be stagnant, you know, they’re also moving somebody here or there, so we have that competition amongst each other,” said Sloat. “So we’re always trying to fire each other up. It’s good competition.”
Sloat says that, though there’s always room for improvement, the only critique that she has of the team is that their “bats could always get hotter.”
“We just want to make sure we peak going into the tournament,” said Sloat. “We don’t want to peak midseason.”
Sloat thinks that their biggest competition during the season will be from Chattanooga’s team.
“They’ve always been pretty good. Last year’s competition was Georgia Southern, but we ended up run-rolling them, so it just depends.”
The Bears will take the field for the first time in 2015 on Feb. 6 for the Mercer Softball Invitational.