February 3, 2008
Albany -- The Albany State softball team was on the field Sunday for one final practice before the start of the season.
Head coach Robert Skinner says, "It's a gorgeous day. You have to love being out here, the day before we open up the season. Everyone is real enthusiastic about playing, and there's a lot of energy going around."
A young Lady Rams team finished 15-2 in the conference last season, winning the SIAC championship.
"We don't look at it as being any small feat at all," says Skinner. "We know we had to come through leaps and bounds to get there. Hopefully this year we'll be able to perform at that level again."
Sophomore Alyssa Spellman says, "I expect us to win the conference championship. We did last year, and we have an even stronger team last year, so I expect us to go all the way, and even push our limits, and push the teams we lost to last year."
Albany State has just two seniors on the team, including pitcher Mindy Mager.
The senior earned 19 wins last season, and was named the conference tournament MVP.
Mager even recruited some new players in the offseason.
"Mindy brought be over here," says junior transfer Samantha Hastings. "I played JUCO with her in Florida. So that's what brought me over here. She said she enjoyed it, and I needed a change."
After winning the conference tournament, ASU had a disappointing showing in the regionals, but are using the finish as motivation for this year.
Spellman says, "We know we could have gone farther than what we did, we lost in regionals. We showed up expecting it to be the same as conference, and it wasn't. So we know what to expect this year, which is the best thing."
Hastings adds, "I know they did very well last year, and most of the girls return, so we should do well."
Albany State plays its home opener Monday against Brewton-Parker with a double-header at one o'clock.