On Monday afternoon the Wildcat women’s softball team kicked off their spring season with their first practice at the Marquardt Field House. This comes after a successful fall season in which they went 6-1 through exhibition play.
“(We) saw a lot of success in the fall games as well as from what carried over from the year prior,” said head coach Mary Kay Amicone after the team practice. “From what the team has been showing me, they are all very eager and excited to fire this season up and get out and play.”
The team — which was reinstated in 2009 — has steadily improved each year leading up to the 2014 season, their best season thus far. They posted a 22-25 record and were one game from making the Big Sky Conference playoffs before losing the final game of the season to Portland State 5-3.
The team lost three seniors in the off season, but had the bulk of last year’s team return as well as several new transfers from other schools. Five of the players currently on the team are freshmen.
“Even though we lost some key players at the end of the season, we have such a wave of new talent that came in that we have been able to fill the holes that we lost quicker than ever,” Amicone said.
Junior infielder Rudi Barrios is one of the players that returned to the team. She has played with Weber State since the 2013 season and last year helped the team by batting .233 with 11 runs scored. While on defense, Barrios had a 1.000 fielding percentage with 33 putouts and one assist.
“I am really excited to be returning this year and am excited to be playing with this team,” Barrios said. “We had a lot of talent return, and with the new players we are already looking like a team ready to play.”
Another player returning is sophomore utility Sara Hingsberger. During her freshman year she played in 43 games, starting in 37 of those games as a right fielder. She was fifth in batting on the team with 32 hits and a .283 batting average, while also hitting five home runs and recording 25 runs batted in (RBI).
“We had so much focus in practice last year and missed being in the playoffs,” Hingsberger said. “This year we are focused and determined to get out there and bring home a ring. It’s a long-term goal that we as a team have been working for, and we are so much more determined after last season.”
Junior utility Alyson Kulp was the second-best hitter on the team in 2014. She has returned after finishing second on the team batting .308 and leading the team in runs scored with 29. She also tied for third on the team with five home runs and was fourth on the team with 24 RBIs. Kulp was one of six Wildcats last season to earn conference honors, as she and former teammate Jasmine Ioane were named to the Second Team All-Conference.
“For me I just love playing,” Kulp said. “I love being out on the field and playing through a game with my team. For all of us, softball has been our life, and we enjoy sharing that with everyone we can.”
The team will begin play on the road in Februrary at the Troy Cox Classic in New Mexico. They will play in several more tournaments throughout February and March, before their first home game March 20 when they host North Dakota in an afternoon doubleheader.
Charles can be found tweeting @cbowkstar_91 or cheering like a fool at any Wildcat sporting event.