Softball Opens Season in Mississippi

Photo+Courtesy+of+Jack+Connaghan
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Softball Opens Season in Mississippi

Photo Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

Photo Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

Photo Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

Photo Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

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Softball season kicks off for the Saint Louis University Billikens on Feb. 7 when they take on Mississippi Valley State in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. With a 19-33 record last year (12-10 in conference), Billikens softball shows plenty of room for improvement.

   That is better said than done, however, as this year’s schedule is as challenging as last year’s, if not more, as it includes seven teams who made the NCAA tournament in 2019. When asked about this year’s schedule, SLU’s head coach Christy Connoyer said, “We look forward to our spring season and the challenging schedule it presents. Our out-of-conference schedule demands preparation, both physical and mental, as our opponents will definitely test us. Playing a strong non-conference schedule will help us as we prepare for the rigors of the Atlantic-10 Conference season.”

   The softball team hosted its 10th annual pre-season fundraising dinner on Saturday, Feb. 1, with tickets costing $25 per person and all proceeds going to fund the softball program, and with the fundraiser done-and-dusted with, Coach Connoyer wanted to put some perspective for the hopes and expectations of the season that lies ahead.

   “Overall, our goal is to grow and improve each weekend to better understand what it takes to compete for a conference championship at the end,” she said. “Each opponent provides us that opportunity, and we anticipate getting stronger and building momentum each weekend.”

   SLU’s softball program is clearly not to be held in the same heightened pedestals of, say, soccer or basketball. With records indicating a program needing a massive overhaul in both ideology and talent, it would be some miracle to see the team playing in the A-10 championship at the end of the season, much less an NCAA berth.

   Nevertheless, with four new recruits in the roster of 16, there are signs of renewed belief and freshness. Seniors Kylie Hess, outfielder, and Kaylea Chappelle, pitcher, will need to provide leadership, and the other upperclassmen will be expected to do the same. “I expect us to win our first A-10 Championship. Our preseason is stacked with highly competitive teams and I think it will really push us to be the best team we can be,” said Hess.

   A-10 All Conference first team Sadie Wise is one of those upperclassmen expected to show up big this season. The junior infielder posted seven team high stats in the 2019 season, including 45 RBIs, 35 runs, .405 batting average and .655 slugging percentage. As a sophomore, Wise set the record for doubles in a season with 19. Wise was also recently selected to “Justin’s World of Softball” national lists for infielders (No. 25) and among players (No. 111). 

   Many of the incoming freshman are also expected to impress in their first season as Billikens. Two local players coming onto the team should add some new flair to the veteren lineup. Tabby Cacheris and Kayla Swiderski are two native standouts. Swiderski comes in as a two-time second team All-State, four year captain from Lindbergh High School. The incoming players are expected to bring in speed and versatility according to Chappelle.

   Chappelle also said that she believes her team this year is going to be “scrappy and surprise a lot of teams.”

   The team also looks to set themselves up for success in the A-10 Tournament this spring by getting the highest seed possible because they will get to play on their home soil for the first time since 2012. “Making top six is the first goal,” said Chappelle, winning it all is the next.” 

   The Billiken Sports Center will be hosting the 2020 Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament from May 6-9. 

Overall, there is much to look forward to in softball as this season will likely indicate the direction for the program’s future.