After winning the Jayhawk and with a very young squad, the softball team looks to continue excellence in 2015. The Cavs return eight sophomores who all had valuable playing experience from last year.
“We have a lot of good leadership,” Cavaliers head coach Aubree Brattin said. “They know what it takes to win a conference championship. They’ve played under the pressure, and they can kind of teach those freshmen not only what I expect, but what it’s going to take to defend that title.”
The Cavs opened up ranked 13th nationally but behind both Cowley and Highland, two teams the Cavs swept last year. You add that with the Cavs unable to advance to nationals last year in regional play, and this team is extremely motivated.
“I’d say we have a huge chip on our shoulder,” pitcher Sydney Koch said. “The ranking kind of aggravated us and makes us work a little bit harder, but also because of the target we have on our back and had even since last year.”
Koch expects teams to give the Cavs all they can handle simply out of dislike for this Cavaliers team and program.
“I think as always with this program, all the teams kind of hate us,” Koch said. “We did not get along with a few teams last year.”
Despite the Cavs not breaking through in the postseason, coach Brattin is very pleased and satisfied with what the squad was able to accomplish last year.
“In my mind it’s a lot tougher to be consistent and play through the entire season and win a conference championship than it is to win two games and get in that national tournament,” Brattin said. “Obviously that’s something we need to overcome, and we’re working towards that.”
The Cavs’ biggest loss of the offseason was unoubtedly All-American pitcher Zoe Price. Price pitched a majority of the squad’s innings last year, but the team does have solid pitching returning.
“It’s very hard to replace a pitcher like that,” Brattin said. “The freshmen from last year, Sydney Koch and Aldyn Wildey, are more than willing to step up and do the job that Zoe did last year.”
Koch has committed to play at Florida Southern College next year and will be the ace for the Cavs this year.
“I would very much expect Sydney to follow in Zoe’s footsteps,” Brattin said. “She has the potential to be an All-American pitcher this year.”
The Cavs had to retool their coaching staff with coach Brattin being the only coach back from last year. Cassandra Hernandez and Tara Wolf are both new to the staff and hope to maintain the club’s success. Koch and the Cavs are pretty determined to prove that they can indeed win the Jayhawk again and go even further than last year.
“I think we all are looking forward to getting out there and showing them who really deserves to be ranked number one in the conference and prove everyone wrong,” Koch said.