Last season the Wolves were hampered by injuries and finished just 14-40 with a last-place finish in the Gulf South Conference. This time around, UWG is built to withstand some injuries and some new faces bring a different attitude to University Softball Field.
“I’m really excited. Last year was a tough year. We had a lot of injuries, especially to our pitching staff, and then defensively we had to move a lot of people around to different positions that maybe they hadn’t played a lot. This year we really worked hard to get recruits that could play more than one position and were comfortable doing that,” Harris said.
The top additions were a pair of transfers ad two freshmen who played high school ball together.
Haley Richards comes in from South Alabama to fill the hole at shortstop, while Heather Crow comes from Kennesaw State to set up behind the plate as the team’s catcher. Jordan Corbin and Elizabeth Burton are expected to make immediate impacts as freshmen coming out of Union Grove. Corbin will mostly play second with a little bit of first, while Burton will fill in at second and play in the outfield.
Coming back is Second Team All-GSC performer from last season and 2013 preseason All-GSC third baseman Nicole Yancey. The junior has rewritten plenty of the UWG record book in just two years and looks to continue the trend after offseason knee surgery. Harris said Yancey has recovered fully and is 100 percent heading into the season-opener.
Along with Yancey, Megan Garcia is coming back from a hand injury and will play center and left field, with Ashley Langly, Monica Mills and Kelsey Francen rounding out the outfielders. Mills is currently injured and Francen is still recovering from a shoulder injury. Even if Francen isn’t 100 percent to throw from the outfield, she will still get playing time as designated player, pinch-hitter and runner.
“I’m really happy with our versatility and I’m really glad with the kids we brought in. I think they’ve bought in to what we’re doing right away. I’m excited. I think we’ve got a good pitching staff, a whole new pitching staff, and we’ve got a lot of kids in our lineup that will be fun to watch at the plate. Defensively, I think, last year we weren’t too bad defensively, but I think we’ve added a lot defensively this year,” Harris said.
The Wolves open up the season Sunday when they travel to Georgia Southwestern for a 2 p.m. doubleheader. While some teams have started their season as early as Feb. 1, UWG has been waiting and is ready to get out on the field.
“I think they’re really ready. I went out and scouted Georgia Southwestern last Sunday. It’s kind of hard to scout a team and know they’re playing and you’re not,” Harris said. “We’ve been chomping at the bit here for a week while everyone else has been playing. I think they’re really ready. We’re ready to stop practicing and start playing other people.”