Wolves aim to climb the ladder in GSC play in 2020
The University of West Georgia softball club found itself competing in the Gulf South Conference Tournament Championship last season, and this spring head coach Al Thomas is convinced that his squad has all the pieces to be on the hunt for something special
The Wolves dropped a 4-1 decision against the University of West Florida at the West Florida Softball Complex last spring in the final game of the season. Of course, they wanted that championship title and losing it hurt, but Thomas said that with seven returning starters and two senior pitchers, they will return with an understanding in regard to what it takes to get to where they want to be.
“I think our kids really took some steps forward to understand what it takes, and it’s hard to explain until you have that experience and we can’t replicate that in practice,” Thomas said.
“We lost too many games up front last year that kept us from being in the regional play. So this year, you know, we have basically seven starters back and then we bolstered our pitching. We’ve got some new kids coming in that can pitch really well to add to what we have and so we really think, barring injuries and we do what we’re supposed to do, we ought to be in the hunt for something. We hope so.”
Upon ending the 2019 softball season on the short end of the stick, there is a little bit of a motivational factor in it. For Thomas, coming up just a little short is the perfect tool to push his club forward in tough or difficult times.
“Well, you know, if you make a mistake we really want them to learn from it so everybody can say, ‘Flush it.’ Bit you really need to remember it a little bit,” Thomas mentioned. “And I think that the motivation that we have right now is just to play the best we can. But, yeah, that still hurts. It hurts, and so it just gives you a little bit of extra drive when times are tough.”
The time has come for the Wolves to shake that hurt off as they are set to kick off the 2020 season in Huntsville, Alabama, this weekend. UWG will compete in four games in only two days, and the softball season will be off and running.
The Wolves open the diamond campaign by facing Kentucky Wesleyan and Trevecca Nazarene today with games starting at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Wolves will compete against Bellarmine in a 1 p.m. doubleheader.
UWG will hit the road again next weekend and travel to Melbourne, Florida, to compete in the Florida Tech Invitational.
The Wolves will only get two weekends of non-conference action before taking on their first GSC foe on Feb. 15. Lee University will be the first conference test of 2020 in Cleveland, Tennessee
As they move the season along at a pretty fast pace, Thomas finds comfort in having a veteran squad. Having two senior pitchers helps, too, but the thing he enjoys most about his team is the ability to compete for positions. In his eyes, that opens up opportunities and makes each player on the roster better.
“If you think it’s all sewed up and wrapped up, you just kind of go through the motions sometimes, and so we’re blessed that we’re capable of having quite a few people step up,” Thomas said.
Within the mix of talent, Thomas is looking for his senior pitchers Morgan Goree, a 2019 GSC All-Tournament Team selection — and Lindsye Jefferson to do good things this season and help the Wolves in a major way.
After playing in 11 straight road games, UWG will open up at home on Feb. 22 against Montevallo in a doubleheader at University Field.