The Lady Hawks softball team will look to have another successful year after making it to the NCAA Division II Regional tournament last year. First year head coach Jessie Homesley, who spent five years as an assistant before being named the head coach this past summer, has her squad charged and ready for what they hope will be another successful year.
Homesley is optimistic for the season.
“I am super excited for this year. This group of girls have great team chemistry, and that should help us a lot this year.” Homesley said.
The Gulf South Conference (GSC) has proven to be a challenging conference in the past and coach Homesley knows that.
“The GSC is a very exciting conference, and anybody can be beat on any given weekend,” Homesley said.
But the team knows its talent, having a nearly identical, returning roster. They only lost one senior last year. Eight of their starters, including all three of their pitchers, have returned. Senior Kalei Clark, junior Hannah Draper and sophomore Payton Lippet, who was selected to the GSC pre-season all-conference team, will be key players against the opposing teams’ hitters. Lippert looks to build off her freshman year, where she threw over 190 innings and had over 100 strikeouts.
“My main key to having a good year is to never be satisfied,” Lippert said. “I have to work hard to be better every single day, and work to have more than one go-to pitch this year.”
Senior corner infielders Kameron Carter, who hit .337 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs last year, and Ericka Bynum, who hit .260 with one home run and had 22 RBIs last year, will lead the offense for the Lady Hawks this year. Junior catcher Taylor Oda, who batted .223 with 6 doubles, one triple, and had 10 RBIs last year; junior outfielder Peyton Barthel, who batted .268 with three home runs and had 22 RBIs last year; and sophomore outfielder Tiffany Holland, who batted .368 with 24 RBIs and had 13 stolen bases last year, will all be vital players for the Lady Hawks this season.
“The biggest things that will help me this year are being consistent at the plate and working hard every day at practice to be the best that I can be to help my team,” Holland said. “I think the biggest key to our success this year will be maintaining our team camaraderie. We will also need to be consistent and bring our athleticism and ability to the field every game.”
The Lady Hawks are slated to finish seventh in the conference this year. Their season started Saturday, Feb. 4, against the University of Montevallo and Flagler University in Columbus, Ga., in a crossover tournament.