Coming off a season in which they went 28-28, the Jacksonville State softball team is looking to get back on the track that saw them win five consecutive OVC Championships.
“We’ve got to get the pride back.” said Head Coach Jana McGinnis, who is entering her 20th season at JSU. “If we’re going to get back to the conference championship, it’s going to take all of this team and doing what’s expected of them.”
One problem facing the Gamecocks is replacing former catcher Kaycee Crow who was the team leader last season.
“We’ll never replace Kaycee Crow,” said McGinnis, “but what we will do is have another player that comes in at catcher and catches with her own personality and in her own way.”
Two of the players Coach McGinnis mentioned taking over at catcher were sophomores Sara Boarders and Savannah Sloan.
“I want to assume more of a leadership role this year,” said Boarders. “I hope I get the opportunity to help us win. However we make that possible is fine by me.”
Boarders is fighting for a spot at first base as well. Last year’s first baseman Shelby Holly led the Gamecocks in home runs with 32 and batting average with .341. Holley left the program this offseason to pursue other interest.
Coach McGinnis also expects junior pitcher Tiffany Harbin to assume more of a leadership role.
When told that McGinnis feels Harbin is one of the leaders, Harbin said it feels good and it gives her confidence. “We’re all kind of leaders on the team.”
Coach McGinnis is approaching her 700th career win. Her record is 654-369. All of those games were with JSU.
Despite uncertainty in the line up and looking for new leaders to step up, JSU was voted by the other OVC schools to win the Eastern Division.
“That’s nice and it shows the respect that other coaches around the league have for our program,” said McGinnis “but what matters is where we are in May. That’s what I tell our girls.”
The Gamecocks start their season on the road in Hammond, Louisiana to take on Saint Louis University as part of the JJ’s Lion Classic on Friday. Their first home game will be a double-header on Tuesday, February 19 at the newly renovated University Field against Alabama A&M University.