The ETSU softball team is currently 17-16 and 6-6 in conference play. The Bucs’ conference record has them tied for second place in the SoCon standings.

They have already improved on their record from a season ago, when they went 15-33 on the season. For the Bucs, they have the opportunity to finish the regular season out at home.

Like most fans and players, the expectations for the season were positive.

“Coming into the season, my expectations were that we would definitely be better than last season,” said coach Brad Irwin. “We returned a lot of hitters and good pitching from last season.”

Coming into the season, senior Madison Boyd (Chattanooga, Tenn.) said, “I feel we have a good group of girls, and of course we want to win the SoCon.”

For the Bucs, players have stepped up this season.

“Boyd has been really good, despite battling injuries, and junior Danielle Knoetze (San Deigo, Calif.),” Irwin said. “Other than those two, no one has surprised me, really, this season, because I know we have a good group.”

The two have elevated the Bucs offensively and defensively this season. Boyd, who missed time last season, has gotten into a rhythm this season. She is currently batting .302 and has hit four homeruns on the season.

Knoetze has also improved her game from a season ago, when she batted .208. She is now is batting .327 and has hit nine home runs on the season.

Irwin said the Bucs must become more consistent game-in-and-game-out. They did early in the season but lately have had their ups and downs.

The great thing for the Bucs is there is plenty of time to improve, not just their record but their overall game.

“I feel we need to improve in all phases of the game, whether it be pitching, defense or hitting,” Irwin said.

When it comes to pitching, the Bucs have relied heavily on junior Lindsey Fadnek (Coalfield, Tenn.) and for good reason. She is 10-4 on the season and has pitched in 20 games so far this season.

On April 30 at home, the Bucs will battle the Southern Conference-leading Samford Bulldogs, who are 30-17 and 10-2 in conference play.

“Coming into the Samford series, they’re the No. 1 team in the conference, so for us we have to be focused and be ready to compete each game… I think we will,” Irwin said.