Bears sit 1-4 after first tournament 

After finishing the 2019 season 27-29, Mercer’s softball team entered the new year with high hopes thanks to many key contributors returning.

On the offensive side, of the top five hitters on last year’s team, four return. Those players are Danielle Castleberry, Allie Jones, Micayla Rood and Abby Walsh. Castleberry and Jones both hit above the .300 mark in the 2019 season.

Castleberry’s held the highest batting average in the Southern Conference. Her .376 average helped her become an All-SoCon first-team player.

Not only do the Bears return a lot of their offensive production, but they also bring back all but one of their pitchers from last season. To go along with those four returnees, Mercer brought in Riley Hickok, a true freshman, and Amber Byrd, a junior transfer from Northwest Florida State.

Of seven teams in the SoCon, Mercer was picked to finish third along with Eastern Tennessee State University as voted on by the conference’s seven head coaches, according to a media release from the Southern Conference.

Also voted on by the coaches were their selections for the preseason All-SoCon teams. Of the 25 players chosen, six Bears were selected.

Danielle Castleberry and Micayla Rood were selected for the All-SoCon first team. Bailey Pattison, Tori Ash, Allie Jones and Abby Walsh were All-SoCon second-team selections.

Five games into the season, Mercer sits at 1-4. They started off with a mercy-rule win over Wright State before losing their next four over a three-day stretch.

Mercer’s 56-game schedule includes games against the Oklahoma Sooners, who will begin the season ranked third in the Coaches Poll, and the Florida State Seminoles, who are ranked in the ninth spot. The Sooners and Seminoles have won three of the last four National Championships.

The Bears’ Head Coach Stephanie DeFeo described the season schedule as “challenging” in an official statement to Mercer University. Her team of 24 will be facing it led by five seniors and five juniors.

The Bears will finish their season right where they start it, at home. A three-game series at Sikes Field will be the final games Mercer plays in the regular season.

That will lead the Bears into the Southern Conference Tournament which runs from May 6-9 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The winner will get a spot in the NCAA Tournament.