• Lillie Burke

PREVIEW: Softball focused and ready for 2015

Although it has been picked to finish ninth in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Belmont softball team isn’t deterred as it starts the 2015 season.

“I think this could be an historic year for the program, the best season they’ve had in the Division I era,” said coach Chris Kuhlmeyer. “We have better pitching, better hitting, better defense.”

This season, the players are looking to do better than they have ever done in the past.

“We have such a bitter taste in our mouths,” said junior Jessica Wilson. “We leave every year dissatisfied.”

As a whole, the team has been focusing on the importance of goal-setting and not dwelling on the past season when they finished with a record of 13-36.

“Our ultimate goal is to make it to the postseason,” said senior outfielder Kat Hollingsworth. “I think focusing on numbers is what has been our problem in the past, so if we can kind of get that out of our heads, then I think we’re going to be a lot better off and things will just start to fall into place.”

Kuhlmeyer echoed Hollingsworth in the team’s postseason priorities and emphasized the team’s talent.

“As a coach, you want to say that you’ll win the regular season title, but that’s not necessarily our main goal. Our main goal is to win the conference tournament championship,” he said. “We have a lot of talent on this team. More talent than we’ve ever had in the history of the program.”

So far, practice has shown a new team that is energized and ready for the coming games.

“I think overall, we’re playing with a lot more confidence,” said Hollingsworth. “We’re playing more as a team and not individually.”

With five new freshman and transfer players this season, the veteran players will need to step up and unite the team, including the team’s six seniors.

“We have our upperclassmen really standing out this season leading the way,” said Wilson.

Among the upperclassmen, senior infielder Kirby Ferrell said she is looking forward to playing her last season with the teammates she now considers her family.

“With so much on your plate off the field, you get here and you just want to enjoy yourself,” said Ferrell. “I just want to win some ball games.”

Wilson agrees and is looking for the team’s wins to at least double and its batting average to increase to above .300.

After losing three of four games in the Music City Classic opening weekend, the team will look to improve during the remaining non-conference schedule which consists largely of road tournaments.

Conference play begins March 14 against Eastern Kentucky and will continue with high-ranking teams through the end of the regular season.

Despite the rocky start, the players aim to “take it one game, one pitch at a time and see where that takes us,” said Hollingsworth.

This article was written by Chaney Mitchell.

Photo Courtesy: Belmont Athletics/Ben McKeown.

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