21 players return from last year's squad in their quest for SLIAC tournament.
Women’s softball team looks to overcome early season scheduling constraints
The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Coaches Poll predicted the Webster University women’s softball team would finish as the league’s third best team during a preseason ballot. Thus far, the team’s only means of resistance have come in the form of rain showers that forced the team to cancel its first four games of the season.
With two pairs of games against Agnes Scott College and Rhodes College cancelled due to inclement weather, the team seeked additional games to neutralize the near three-week break in games. The team will now prepare to play its first game of the season on Thursday, March 1, a home doubleheader against Harris-Stowe University.
Regardless of the weather circumstances, the team remains confident in their ability to remain confused and put forth a strong season. Head Coach Chris Eaton said he believed the team would succeed, even with the multitude of young players the team has had to prepare.
“We have a lot of new players this year that I think will be different than last season,” Eaton said. “We lost some senior leadership last year, but so far during practice, and in the off-season, the team has really worked hard and some good leaders have emerged.”
The softball team is heading into the 2017-18 season having lost seven seniors. Of the seven, the team lost three infielders, three outfielders and a pitcher to graduation. Last season, the group finished with a record of 28-15, which marked their first winning season since 2013. They also advanced to the SLIAC Championships. The team lost 7-1 to Greenville University, the opening season favorites according to the preseason poll.
The team figures to be much healthier this season. After being limited to 35 games played and 19 games started out of the team’s 43 games, sophomore infielder Taylor White plans to open the season at full health. Eaton also specifically mentioned players, such as White, sophomore Abby Burroughs, as well as the experience in terms of pitching.
“I’m excited to see to see what White can do this season when healthy,” Eaton said. “She was hurt most of the year last season but played well when she was in there. Abby Burroughs had an amazing year last year as a freshman, and I can see her having an even bigger year this year.
Mansur led the way for pitchers with a 10-4 win-loss record in 23 appearances. She stated that given the team’s target on their backs, she will be motivated to produce another successful season.
“I think this season, we have found a new found confidence,” Mansur said. “Coming from having a great season last year, the returners have tried to make it a point to the new girls that we are and will be a good team, and with that, we now have a target on our backs, but that should only motivate us more. We only want to be better, and we work on that goal every day.”
Mansur, a leader of the team this year, also talked about the level of preparedness she hopes to help the team achieve. about she said setting the precedent for the future and helping younger teammates to advance and succeed in their roles helps set this season apart from previous years.
“This season is different from others for me because it is my last year playing collegiate softball,” Mansur said. “With this, I obviously wanna go out with a bang, but I also want to leave knowing that the program is prepared for the future. I want to prepare everyone the confidence that they can be those leadership roles or even behind the scenes roles.”
The team has both youth and experience, but the schedule could assist in helping development. The Preseason Poll, which was released on January 24th, tabbed the Gorloks as the third best team, trailing behind both Westminster University (74 points) and Greenville University (75 points). Assuming the team needs time to get new player additional experience, it doesn’t compete against universities such as Greenville University until March 21, and Westminster University until April 11th.