The Belmont softball team is gearing up for its 2019 season, with both new and old faces ready to get on the field.
The team will start the season on Feb. 14, with two games against Ball State and Akron. It will continue against Monmouth and Drexel on Feb. 15.
The Bruins are coming off a disappointing season, with a 6-16 record in the conference and a 25-25 record overall. The team nearly made it into the Ohio Valley Conference championship but missed it by only one game.
Though last season didn’t end the way head coach Brian Levin wanted it to, his goals for this season remain the same.
“Winning the OVC is our goal. We don’t really set a lot of outcome type of goals,” said Levin. “We try to get our players to understand that doing the little things right, day after day, leads to success. It is a process that they need to concentrate on and not the goal.”
The Bruins also lost four talented players from last season, including Lexi Rouse and Jess Andree. Rouse was the best hitter, with a .328 batting average. Andree ended with 31 RBIs, the best on the team. They also led the team by scoring nine home runs each.
“It will be difficult to replace our two top hitters from last season, but we spend an incredible amount of time developing our hitters,” said Levin.
In the 2019 OVC preseason media poll, Belmont has been predicted to finish eighth with a total of 99 points. Eastern Kentucky is expected to finish first, with Jacksonville State close behind in second. Belmont plays against Jacksonville State on April 9, and Eastern Kentucky on April 19.
Despite losing a few players, fans will still see familiar faces on the field. There are six returning seniors, including Baylee Cook, who held the third best batting average at .275. She also finished the season impressively with zero errors.
Another returning senior, Chelsea Thomas, had a 149 AB record, the best on the team. She also pulled through with an impressive 22 runs batted in, four home runs and eight doubles.
The team is welcoming six new players this semester to round out the roster, including four freshman: Molly Dietz, Audrey Lyle, Taylor Marciniak and Jessica Parente.
“We have some really quality players that I am confident will make the most of their opportunities,” Levin said. “There are always a couple of players every year that step up and have career type of years. We expect the same to happen this season.”
They also added two transfers, sophomore Autumn McDanel and junior Brittany Kennett. Prior to Belmont, McDanel held a .356 batting average at Des Moines Community College. Kennett earned 8-6 record with a 3.62 ERA at Odessa College.
Though it will be a difficult journey for the Bruins as they need their young team to learn fast and step up, coach Levin is confident that the team will be focused and ready to go for opening day.
“We need to focus on the next step up the mountain, and not the summit, “ said Levin. “If we can do that every day we will finally reach the top of the mountain.”
Games to watch out for:
March 1: Opening home game vs. Northern Kentucky at 2 p.m. and Alabama A&M at 7 p.m.
March 23: Start of conference schedule
March 29: Belmont at Austin Peay
April 9: Belmont vs. Jacksonville State
April 19: Belmont vs. Eastern Kentucky
April 28: Belmont at SIUE
This article written by Grace Cope.