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Lady Eagles set expectations high for 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008  
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Lady Eagles set expectations high for 2008

By Tiffany Sherman

With the Oklahoma Christian University softball season just around the corner, the Lady Eagles are geared up for their first game and are eager for a winning season.

The 2007 season was a disappointment to all the players, and the season's 20-29 record left the Lady Eagles hungry for more.

"After last season, of course we want to win," junior pitcher Linzi Farris said. "Making it to the regional tournament and to the national tournament would be awesome. Our major goal this season is to improve the record from the past three years."

The Lady Eagles have been working hard to make this goal come true. With 6 a.m. conditioning and hitting practices in the barn, the offseason has been intense.

"The girls have really pushed themselves hard this offseason," head softball coach Tom Heath said. "This year, we were lucky to add Jack Pugh to the coaching staff, and with his help, the team is now in better shape than any team we have had in years."

When almost all of Oklahoma Christian's campus is still sleeping, softball players are in the gym conditioning. These practices have been hard but should pay off in the end.

"It takes a lot of determination to get better when you have to be at school by 5:45 in the morning," senior second baseman Allissa Hejl said. "But when we see how much conditioning alone has paid off, it makes us want to get out onto the diamond even more."

According to the players, all the practice seems to be paying off. They are ready for the Sooner Athletic Conference, and ready to prove they are not only going to be a team to compete with, but a team to beat.

"We are looking really good this year both offensively and defensively," Farris said. "And this year we have been working with Jack and have real speed that teams in our conference aren't used to and won't be expecting."

Inexperience is something the team has not looked past.

"There are nine new players this season with only ten returning players, so the beginning of the season could be a struggle," Hejl said. "But with the talent we have, there is no doubt in our minds that we can step-up and compete with any other team in the conference."

The ladies acknowledge they have a lot of young players on the team this season, but they don't see this as any weakness.

"We are a young team, but we don't see that as a weakness," senior third baseman Rachel Smith said. "We see it more as an opportunity to step up."

Having a team with 19 players is something Oklahoma Christian softball has never experienced. This season's team is the largest team in Oklahoma Christian history.

"Because we have such a large team, our team is going to have more depth than we had last year," Heath said. "We have multiple players for every position, and this will allow us to stay fresh during games."

Oklahoma Christian's softball season begins with a doubleheader on Tuesday and will be played at Mid-America Christian University. These games are just the beginning to a packed season.

"This year's schedule is going to be pretty jam-packed," Hejl said. "But we have been practicing hard, and we are all really excited to start playing."

With a team full of talented players who want nothing more than to win, this season is going to be one to watch.

"I truly feel like this is going to be the best year that we have had in many years," Heath said. "Our team is made up of a very talented group of ladies."

The Lady Eagles' first home game is Tuesday Feb. 26. The doubleheader against Oklahoma City University is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. with the second game starting at 4 p.m.

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