The Southern Miss softball team begins its season in the Baton Rouge tournament where they will play; Massachusetts, LSU and UT Arlington. The team features nine new faces, eight of which are freshman, including a new hitting and pitching coach.
Despite the new faces, the team returns with an experienced pitching staff that finished with a 2.62 earned run average last season. The staff includes seniors Kim Crowson, Samantha Robles and Jillian Johnson. Crowson led the team in innings pitched last season where she threw a 2.35 ERA. Robles threw a 2.44 ERA and Johnson threw 3.33 ERA.
“It helps a coach sleep better at night for sure,” said Head Coach Wendy Hogue. “When you got your top three returners, and they are all seniors. They have had tons of time in that circle. They all bring a little something different. They are doing a really good job of grabbing these young players and pulling them along. [I’m] excited about all the pitchers.”
The new influx of players will bring new life to the team’s hitting as the offense showed much promise in the fall season. The young talent will help the team improve on last season’s .261 batting average, especially with an experienced pitching staff at the helm.
“I think for the younger girls coming in, it gives them a lot of confidence in us because we have been there,” Senior Kim Crowson said. “We have three seniors [and] not most teams have three seniors that are coming back. On top of that they are three seniors that everyone is [confident] to play behind.”
The new pitching staff will help develop the team and will be key in helping the younger players gain confidence as the season plays out.
“You can’t forget about the younger girls,” Crowson said. “They are just as good and, if not, better sometimes. Everybody has their strengths, and I think it’s going to be a good thing for us to build off of. We’re very confident in the girls coming in.”
“Were just eager to get out there and just the see the fruits of the labor,” Hogue said. “We’ve got depth—we’ve got a lot of young talent ready to step up. We’re just looking forward to getting out there and get cleats on the dirt.”
The Golden Eagles will play Massachusetts first on Feb. 9 at 2:30 p.m. then play LSU at 7:30 p.m. with that game being televised on the SEC Network.