February 16, 2016
Diamonds are a girls best friend, but these girls are not talking about the “ring by spring.” The Mississippi College softball team is back on the diamond for their 2016 season. The Lady Choctaws finished their 2015 campaign at the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series, where they finished in fourth place. This year’s team has hopes to return to the World Series and bring back a championship.
Head Coach Brooke O’Hair believes that this team has what it takes to be a championship team. “All we think about is going back to the national championship,” she said. “We have the talent to do it. If we can come together and grow as a team, we have a really good opportunity at winning the whole thing.”
The Lady Choctaws welcomed 13 new members to the team this year. The team had to rebuild after saying farewell to ten of their senior players last year. “Even though we have pretty much a whole new team, the talent is still unreal,” O’Hair said. “This team is more of a team in the sense that they’re all out there for the purpose of the program.”
The team signed four transfers and nine freshmen to help add more talent to the team. “These recruits are crazy competitive,” O’Hair said. “Most of them have come from championship programs, and they love winning.” Junior Tylan Buckley and freshman Alexia Harmon, both infielders, were named to the 2016 Gulf South Conference Top Newcomers List earlier in the year. “Tylan is a transfer from Jackson State University, and she’s going to be a major key for us,” O’Hair said. “Infielder and catcher Kristen Qualls and Alexia Harmon are probably going the top two freshmen we have right now. Both of them are starting for us.”
O’Hair adds that the team is well rounded in several areas. “We have a really healthy pitting staff this season,” she said. Katherine Lee, Penny Nichols, and Carlie Sargent will serve as pitchers for this season. “Carlie Sargent is a top ranked pitcher,” O’Hair said. “We expect great things from her.” The offense and defense are also expected to be more powerful and solid than last year. O’Hair is anticipating an exceptional performance from senior infielder Madison Oliver.
Although O’Hair is confident in the talent and strength of her team, she wants to see improvement in the team’s communications skills. “We have to get better at communicating with each other in the infield and outfield,” she said. “They have to get used to each other and get comfortable playing with each other defensively if we want to be successful.”
The road to the NCCAA Championships will not be an easy path for the Lady Choctaws. The team will compete against several top ranked Gulf South Conference teams along the way. Valdosta State, Lee University, Shorter University, University of Alabama at Huntsville, and University of North Alabama all have impressive teams. “If we don’t show up and play to win, we’ll lose against them, it’s that simple.” O’Hair said.
The Lady Choctaws have ten home games in Feb. MC will host Miles College, West Florida, Millsaps College, and West Alabama at the softball complex. “This team is loaded with talent,” O’Hair said. “If we show up and be confident in who we are as a team, I think we have a really good chance to beat every single team on our schedule.”
-Michaela Parker, Sports Editor
this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 8 of The Mississippi Collegian