Softball squad starts season off strong by going 3-1 in Mississippi tournament
“This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Eaton, who is in his third year of coaching at Webster. “We were fortunate to get some very good players from outside our area. We focused on Arizona and Michigan for recruiting and were successful.”
The 2010 season yielded 24 wins for Webster and the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship. However, the team lost 10 players due to graduation.
Eaton said that because there is no Division lll-softball in Arizona, he focused on recruiting in the state and got two players to commit: freshman pitcher Trisha Thompson and junior outfielder Brandi Strowman.
“I made a last minute decision to come to Webster,” Strowman said. “When I visited Webster, I thought it was awesome. I have never been on a team where all of us want to play so bad and want to be together. The chemistry is great.”
Eaton said the team has a special look and he sees the players gelling already.
“They all got along from the beginning,” Eaton said. “They rented gym space on their own, just so they could practice.”
Sophomore infielder Jessica Arcangel, one of five returning players, likes the atmosphere of the team. She believes talent-wise, they are a step above the 2010 team.
“We have a bunch of junior college players and freshmen who are very talented,” Arcangel said. “Although we lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, we’ll be a good team. Our hitting will be our strength. We’ll play good defense and have a good mix of pitching.”
The Gorloks have been practicing indoors all winter due to weather. The first time they were outside a gymnasium this year was at a tournament in Mississippi, where Webster won three games and lost one.
Thompson won two games for the Gorloks in Mississippi. She came on in relief and pitched four innings in the team’s comeback win against Mississippi College, 7-6, on Feb. 25 and pitched a complete game against Millsaps College in a 4-3 win on Feb. 26.
“I understand my role,” Thompson said. “Once I got out there on the mound, it was just another day at the office.”
Hanna Brindisi, a junior transfer from a Michigan community college, contributed a big bat in Mississippi with a pair of two-home run games.
Eaton believes a key to winning the SLIAC championship is playing a tough schedule before the conference season begins. The Gorloks will also travel to Florida during the university’s spring break to play eight games.
“Three of the teams we play in Florida are teams who played in the NCAA tournament last year,” Eaton said.
Fontbonne University has been chosen as the pre-season favorite in the SLIAC Softball Pre-Season Coaches’ Poll. The Griffins received six first place votes. Webster received one first place vote and was picked to be the runner-up. Fontbonne went 24-17 in 2010 and captured their fourth SLIAC Tournament Championship overall.
“Our goal is to win the conference championship, get to regionals and play in the World Series,” Arcangel said.
The Gorloks will be in Kissimmee, Florida, March 5 – 9 before returning for their first home game of the season against fifth-ranked DePauw University on March 12 at 1 p.m. at Blackburn Park.