By Isabel Marhoun
The Sunshine State Conference (SSC) ranked The University of Tampa’s softball team as third in the preseason poll. Returning from last season’s line-up are eight starters. This will set the team up with a solid foundation to start off the new season.
Last season the team made a regional appearance along with keeping a long winded undefeated streak. They ended the season with a 34-13 record. Right now the team is in pre-season, preparing for their first game against Ursuline college on Saturday, Feb. 1, which will be taking place at home.
“After we made a regional appearance last year, we are most excited to hopefully dominate the season and end up in the same position we were in last year and hopefully we can make a national appearance this year,” said senior second baseman Cristina Clauberg. “Our biggest competition is Rollins. They have a lot of strong returners.”
Rollins was named No.1 in the pre-season coaches poll. This is the first time that they have been named in five years since 2015. Rollins ended their season with a 38-11 record. The team will be returning with 12 starting players among there are four seniors. The Tampa Spartans will face the Rollins Tars on Friday, March 13 at home.
“We are most excited to see all of our hard work pay off throughout the season and helps us win a national championship,” said sophomore shortstop Stephanie Balmer.
Last season the team earned a 19 game winning streak. Alumna, pitcher Makaleigh Dooley earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American First Team honors along with being named SSC pitcher of the year, two years in a row. This season, the team has eight starters returning but will be missing Dooley on the mound.
“We are most focused on winning but definitely taking the series for conference games that matter for the post season eligibility,” said senior pitcher Sam Kaye.
The team has hopes of making it to regionals and hopefully securing a conference championship. Kaye described how the team line-up is shaping up for this upcoming season.
“We are most excited for our line-up, I would say,” said Kaye. “We have a really strong batting line-up so it will be exciting to see how we perform with all of our new teammates and the young incoming class.”
There are currently six freshmen gearing up to play in their first spring season. These additions to the team change the chemistry on the field, but can add to a strong line-up. Freshman utility player Anyssa Grant commented on how excited she is for the season and what expectations she has leading into it.
“I am really excited and confident about this season. UTSB had a strong season last year, and this year we want even more. Everyone is determined to win and get to the championship, and with all our hard work in the fall I really think we have a good chance,” said Grant. “Personally, as a freshman I am still learning. I expect a lot of growth in myself as a person, student and athlete in my first year here at UT.”
The team is hoping to grow this season and has the goal of a championship on their minds. They have been working hard in the preseason with hopes that it will all pay off in this spring season.To see the Spartans in action, their season will be starting up on Saturday, Feb. 1 at home against Ursuline College.
Isabel Marhoun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org