HUNTSVILLE, Texas - The Sam Houston State softball team, preseason favorites in the 2008 Southland Conference race, begin their 2008 schedule Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. when the Bearkats play host to Prairie View A&M in a doubleheader at the Bearkat Softball Stadium.
With all but one starter returning from last year's team that earned Sam
Houston its first NCAA regional playoff berth in 21 years at the Division I
level, the Bearkats are poised for more success in 2008.
Sam Houston rolled up a 38-26 overall record in 2007, the team's most
victories in one year since winning 39 games in 1993.
The Bearkats followed up a runner-up regular season finish by knocking off the number one, three, four, and five seeds to win the Southland Conference post-season event hosted by Sam Houston State.
The Kats then eliminated Louisiana-Lafayette to reach the semi-finals of the NCAA regional in College Station.
"The kids are excited about getting the opportunity to play," Head Coach Bob Brock said. "It's been 10 months since the tournament and they're ready to get back on the field."
The 2008 team will be led by two seniors, shortstop Tanya Hooser and
designated player Mandy Huckabee. Junior Brandi Crnkovic, last year's
Southland tournament "Most Valuable Player" returns on the mound.
Hooser, Huckabee, and Crnkovic were All-Southland Conference selections last year along with sophomore outfielder Lauren Burns, catcher Casie Everitt, sophomore pitcher Morgan Mikulin, and infielder Sarah Parich. Burns, Hooser, and Crnkovic also were named All-Tournament at the Southland post-season event.
Brock, who ranks 13th among NCAA Division I active softball coaches with a record of 880-469-1 in his 23 seasons, returns 14 letter winners this spring.
Other top returnees include sophomore infielder Amy Brown, junior outfielder Krystal Gay, sophomore infielder Holli Hatcher, sophomore infielder Amanda Lindsey, sophomore catcher Ashley Nelson, sophomore infielder Janaye Richardson, junior outfielder Kendra Spivey, and sophomore outfielder Tiffani Woodrum.
"We have strong senior leadership this year with Tanya and Mandy," Brock said. "What really impressed me about last year's team was the way our freshmen and sophomores responded. We have another good group of freshmen this season and we're anxious to see how they will do."
The Bearkats welcome three outstanding freshmen to the team as well.
Outfielder Alex Survant was an All-State player at Bryan High School.
Infielder Hailey Wiginton was a four-time All-District shortstop at
Friendswood. Infielder Whitney Wilson helped lead Garland High School to two state titles.
"We're excited about getting the 2008 season started," Brock said. "With two seniors, five juniors, eight sophomores, and three freshman, this is still a fairly young group. They achieved a lot last year and are aiming high again this season."