Coach Brock, softball team not phased by loss of seniors
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 00:10
After starting 1-13 last year, the Sam Houston State softball team finished out the season with sheer brute force. They finished the season 26-21 after getting knocked out of the championship game in last year’s Southland Conference Tournament.
“I was really excited about the way we ended up,” SHSU head coach Bob Brock said. “We started out slow but we ended up doing really well.”
During the offseason, the Bearkats lost Seniors Erin Burford, Tomi Garrison, Brittany Gutierrez, Courtney Schoenemann and Calli Wood to graduation.
Garrison’s presence in the starting rotation will be missed, as she sported the team’s second-lowest ERA of 2.60 and was tied for a team-leading 12 wins last season.
But with the addition of five freshmen, Brock and the Bearkats look to replace those that they lost and then some. They gained two pitchers in Dani Allen and Amber Neal, two infielders in Angelica Gonzalez and Jennie Kieval and a utility player in Tiffany Castillo.
“We definitely have the players to fill those spots,” Brock said.
The Bearkats have been playing in what the NCAA calls non-traditional games, where the coaches of each team can evaluate their players and decide who will be their main starters. These games are not scrimmages, however. They include umpires and they actually mean something.
“They’re competing,” Brock said. “That’s what this time of the year is for. To me, in generalities, I feel like we have some people that could help us out in those places.”
Even after losing some players that made his team’s wonder-season possible, Brock is still confident that his team can come back and match the level of play they performed at last season.
“I think this is probably the best team I’ve had in a while,” Brock said. “We could be somewhat better this year than we were the previous year. With the people stepping up that are still on the roster, I feel like we’re going to compete pretty well this year.”
One key returner is Senior outfielder Kim Damian, who led the team with 11 home runs and 104 total bases last season. She also had the best batting average on the team (.361). Senior Shelbi Tucker, who led the team’s RBI category with 36, will also be returning.
The Bearkats regular season does not start until February, where they will start the season in Waco against Baylor, but they will be playing non-traditional games until then. The next game will be on Saturday Oct. 27 at Sam Houston State Softball Stadium to begin a double-header against Blinn College. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.