By Isaac Bourne, Sports Editor
February 10, 2023
When asked about his expectations for the season, head softball coach Derrick Grimes did not sugarcoat his response.
“It’s really hard to tell right now,” Grimes said. “We’ve got some good talent in, and we’ve got some good talent coming back, but it all will come down to how the pitchers perform.”
As soon as the softball players arrived back on campus, the team lost three pitchers for various reasons, dropping their number from eight to five, leaving juniors Hannah Hunter and Maggi Huddleston, sophomore Tuesday Melton and freshmen Hope Johnson and Kodee Batchelor as the lone women up on the mound this season.
“It hurts when you lose three pitchers, so that means the other girls are going to have to step up, which I think they will,” Grimes declared.
Outside of pitching, Grimes was quick to praise senior infielder Hope Waid, who is coming off a season where led the team in batting average (.370), slugging percentage(.433) and on-base percentage(.407).
“Hope, she’s our lead-off,” Grimes said.“Lefty, fast, strong, a really good defensive player, just a good all-around player. She’s really a key to a lot of our success because when she leads off and gets on base, she’s a difference-maker. She can steal bases, and she’s a good hitter.”
Waid, named Second Team All GAC in her sophomore season, is excited for her final year with the Tigers, citing this team as different from prior years.
“I’ve loved the relationships I’ve made on the softball team all four years, but this year’s team is special,” Waid said. “We have had a lot of freshmen come in who bring really positive energy, and the team is really fun to be around.”
One of those freshmen is Madison Shoebottom, who, after recovering from ACL surgery, is hoping to make an impact on her team.
“Madison is a really strong player, specifically a strong hitter,” Grimes said. “Hopefully, she will come along well [after her ACL surgery]”
Along with her, the team brings in 11 new freshmen who all hope to make a difference in a stacked GAC.
“It’s a battle every time we go out onto the softball field in this conference,” Grimes said. “If you play well and execute and don’t make any mistakes, you always have a chance to win, but in our conference, you can still not win and do everything right.”