Coming into their 2017-18 season the Bucs are hopeful to repeat as SoCon champions and make another appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“We have confidence knowing that we have played in the NCAA tournament and won a conference championship,” said Head Coach Brad Irwin. “We feel we can do it again so there was a lot of focus coming into this season.”
Defensively, Irwin feels the team will be better than they were a season ago. “We will definitely be better; I feel like we have more speed to cover more ground,” said Irwin. “We also moved Nikki Grupp (Jacksonville, Florida) to third base she has done really well for us this offseason.”
Last year’s team was built on home runs, allowing them to erase deficits with ease however; most of those players graduated. “Offensively I think we will be different; last year we relied on power,” said Irwin. “This season we will rely on speed. We have a lot of good pieces.”
The Bucs came into Friday of the Eagle round robin in Statesboro, Georgia, looking to develop chemistry. “We are trying to win, and we expect to come out with a lot of energy,” said Irwin.
In their first game against Radford, the Bucs offense was not able to produce a run, losing 6-0. Pitcher Madison Ogle (Maryville, Tennessee) struggled despite striking out eight batters on the day.
Next, the Bucs played Murray State looking to bounce back offensively and put less pressure on their pitchers. However, the Bucs defense allowed 14 runs in the first two innings. After giving up one run in the third, the Bucs were able to score four runs in the fourth inning. The Bucs were not able to recover from the first two innings of damage and ended up losing 16-6.
The Bucs pitching stats were low the first two games but as the season progresses, the pitching and defense are expected to improve.