Softball hits speed bump

Wesley Gardner

The St. Edward’s University women’s softball team is looking to bounce back this season from a disappointing showing at last year’s regional tournament where they went 0-2 to end their season.

“This is the first year we’ve had 10 wins in February, at least in my experience,” said Lexi Stephens, junior shortstop and current record holder for single season batting record (.483).

So far in the season, the Hilltoppers have accumulated a 11-7 record.

After two recent victories over Texas A&M University-Kingsville in their doubleheader Feb. 20, the Hilltoppers struggled against nationally ranked teams this past weekend.

The Hilltoppers fell to regional’s number one team, Angelo State (15-2), who are also 19th in the nation, on Feb. 27, and split a doubleheader against Abilene Christian University (7-9), who are ranked 17th in the nation.

The team lost the first game of the doubleheader against Angelo State in a close match 1-2.

“We played really hard in the first game against Angelo State and had an opportunity in the fifth inning to take the lead off a line drive shot to right field by Courtney Lavender,” said Head Coach Amy Coulter. “Their [right fielder] made an amazing catch otherwise I feel we would have taken game one. “

The Hilltoppers kept the second game close with a 2-1 lead for Angelo State, but 11 runs in the bottom of the third inning for the Rambelles changed the momentum of the game. The score did not change, ending the game in a loss for the Hilltoppers 1-13.

On Feb. 28, the Hilltoppers fought for the victory of the first game 6-5 against Abilene Christian.

“I love having a team that comes out the next day and scores five runs in one inning to defeat the  number 17 Abilene Christian,” said Coulter.

The Hilltoppers unfortunately fell 1-0 in the second game to Abilene Christian.

The Wildcats scored their only run of the game in the fourth inning. Sophomore pitcher Lana Jo Hairston (1-1) had a solid game, allowing just the one run on seven hits, while walking four batters and striking out one.

“The softball team is one big family that fights through adversity and works harder every practice to fix mistakes and become better,” Coulter said.

Before this weekend, the Hilltoppers won six of the last seven games. The team’s early success this season could be attributed to the seven freshmen helping strengthen the squad.

With outfielder Lisa Paul being the lone senior on the team, the freshmen have had to look to the sophomores and juniors for leadership as well.

“I think as a team, we have leaders in all different ranges of age,” said Stephens. “Different people lead in different areas.”

The leadership seems to be paying off, as the Hilltoppers have found themselves with one of their best starts in recent years. The softball team made it to its first NCAA Div. II World Series in 2008, so the women are expecting big things this year. 

“We’re doing good,” said sophomore Meagan Bailey. “We’re going out and killing people on the field and I love it. As we keep playing games we’re going to get even better.”

The Hilltoppers’ next home series will be against conference rival Lincoln University in a double header March 5 at 1 p.m. and a single game March 6 at noon.

“Our mental goal as a team is to get better every game and to stick together as a team,” said Coulter. “We head into conference play this weekend with lots of confidence and momentum.”