By Megan Seals
The Lady Bulldogs’ softball program is practicing its way up to the start of a new season.
With a runner-up finish in the TranSouth Conference last season — their highest regular season finish since 2006 — the Lady Bulldogs are looking to build on that past accomplishment.
With the new season, Union head coach Heather Hall returns 11 players, including the entire pitching staff. The Lady Bulldogs have also added six newcomers to the mix.
“We have a really tough schedule ahead of us,” Hall said. “We are playing some of the top teams in the nation. We had a big freshman class last year with a lot of freshman starters, so they have a lot more experience under their belts and I am hoping that experience will show to get us to the next level.”
With the large number of freshman players, Hall said some of her younger starters are Miranda Mullen, elementary education major; Shelby Lam, physical education major; Katie Beth Fesmire, nursing major; and C.J. Browder, political science major.
“This season we will really focus on building team camaraderie and playing as one unit,” Hall said. She also said the program only has two seniors on the team — Brittany Burkett, athletic training major, and Amber Hayes, nursing major.
Along with the seniors, the Lady Bulldog team captains this season are juniors Ali Bozza, athletic training and physical therapy major, and Carmesha Owens, business marketing major.
The team’s pitching game consists of three returning players – sophomores Keaton Kirk, athletic training major, and Brooke Thomas, sports medicine and art double major, along with Tobie Joy, junior nursing major. Joy is back on the roster after sitting out last season because of transferring eligibility.
Mullen will be seen anchoring the outfield while also adding speed to the offense. Lam transferred from Middle Tennessee State University and will be the left-handed power hitter for the team.
Caroline George, sophomore social work major, is coming off an injury from last season and is expected to come back as pitcher this season when she is fully healed. Browder will be helping on the defensive aspect of the game.
“I expect that our team will stick together and work hard together so that we may achieve the goals we have set before us,” Bozza said. “Also, we will do well because of the bond we have formed among ourselves.”
The bonding of teammates is what both captains see as the team’s focus heading into the new season. Owens said the team has bonded emotionally, spiritually and physically.
“As we already have been, we are going to continue to focus on maintaining a bond that allows us to work together as one rather than as individuals,” Owens said.
“I think every single girl will step up.”