February 5, 2009

Lady 'Canes open softball season Friday morning

GSW has games at 10 a.m., 2 and 8 p.m.

By Chris Whitaker, The Americus Times-Recorder

The Lady Hurricanes will throw out the first pitch of the 2009 season on Friday with three games as they host the first GSW Invitational.

Georgia Southwestern finished last season 19-29 overall and 4-14 in Peach Belt play. It will open the season at 10 a.m. against Albany State and have games at 2 p.m. against Flagler and 8 p.m. against Wesleyan.

The Flagler game will be held at Southland Academy.

"We're more than ready to get going," said coach Eddie Ward. "Practices have gotten a little mundane, and we're ready to see competition and some other faces other than teammates. We're rip-roaring ready to go. We're looking for a lot of success this weekend, too. We hope to get off to another good start like we did last year, and maybe we can maintain it."

GSW started 7-0 last season before hitting a slump. Ward has given the roster a facelift with 10 new faces and expects big things this year. This comes after the Lady Hurricanes were eighth in the PBC in hitting and last in pitching and defense.

Heading the newcomers are junior transfers Mariko Nomura (South Georgia College) and Nichole Griffin (Georgia State) and freshmen Gabby Buck and Katie Wooten. Nomura was the Region XVII Pitcher of the Year, and Griffin made the All-Freshmen team of the Colonial Athletic Conference.

"No doubt, the 10 I brought in will be immediate impact players," said Ward. "I think they will change us defensively, as well as offensively. They have proved that in practice. Every kid I've brought in here will play an awful lot. I'm a little concerned because we are playing so many freshmen. Other schools have done it, and the quality of players we've got is Peach Belt talent, and we will close the gap quickly."

Junior Shea Weaver returns as the team's leading hitter, and she said the tournament will be a great indicator of how far they've come in the offseason.

"This weekend will really go to show how we can play," she said. "We scrimmaged with ABAC (on Tuesday), and the bats were amazing - we hit the ball really well - and our defense was great. It is really going to show what kind of team we're going to be. We have the athleticism and the opportunity. We've got to take advantage of it and go in full force. It should be a great season for us."

 

PICTURED: Ashley Durden

PHOTO BY: Chris Fenn