Coming off of last season’s success, CSU’s women’s softball team heads into the 2003-2004 season with high expectations and a chance to repeat as Mountain West Conference champions.
“Last season we surprised a lot of people,” said head coach Mary Yori. “Preseason we were ranked sixth in the coaches poll and we ended up wining the Mountain West Conference championship, so this year we look to build off of that and take it as far as we can into the NCAAs.”
The Rams come into the fall with all but one position returning from last year’s championship team. The battle for the vacancy at third base – left by graduate Jen Mahoney – has been competitive and this fall the team looks to solidify the spot before league play.
Returning starters include All-MWC tournament MVP Megan Masser and All-American first baseman Ricki Walker along with junior catcher Kerry Farrell who provides strong defensive play and leadership for the squad. But even with such a strong returning cast of players, the Rams still have a very talented freshman class that looks to develop this fall, including pitcher Jess Strickland, who will be a two-way threat with her strong bat and dominating pitching abilities.
The fall season provides a time for the team to prepare for the spring when the regular season begins. Goals for the team this fall include finding a solid third baseman, giving the younger players a lot of innings and working on team chemistry.
“Winning is the ultimate goal, even in the fall, but hopefully the girls will learn a lot and the younger players will get more comfortable out there and improve team chemistry,” Yori said.
The strength of the team lies in its offense. The Rams have a very talented group of hitters and their bats should provide some excitement along with runs in the coming weeks.
“We have the opportunity to host this year’s conference tournament so obviously our goal is to repeat as champs in front of our home crowd,” Yori said.
Last season the Rams went into the NCAA tournament as an eighth seed and fell to No. 1 Arizona in the first round.
“We want to be more prepared this season and get the attitude that we belong here, playing these kind of teams, Yori said.
The Rams begin their fall circuit at the Big Red Fall Classic in Lincoln, Neb. this weekend, followed by a double-header with in-state rival Northern Colorado Sept. 21 and a home game against Regis Sept. 27.