A fresh start

Softball team looks to improve on losing 2014 year

When the Liberty University women’s softball team begins regular-season play in a few short weeks, it will be a season of new opportunities.

ROUNDING — The Lady Flames hope to finish above .500 in Big South play for the first time since 2011. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

ROUNDING — The Lady Flames hope to finish above .500 in Big South play for the first time since 2011. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

The Lady Flames will debut their new 1,000-seat stadium, as well as seek to improve on a modest 11-46 2014 campaign.

Returning senior second baseman Megan Robinson said she is very excited to finally have the chance to play in the new venue.

“Being here for the past four years and playing in our old stadium (then) compared to this, it’s just amazing that we get the opportunity to play in one of the best stadiums in the country,” Robinson said.

Second-year Head Coach Dot Richardson echoed Robinson’s enthusiasm about the opening of the new complex.

“We are extremely excited about the commitment that Liberty has made to our sport of softball,” Richardson said. “If you look at the stadium, it is a testament to that. You look at fans that are now going to be able to come and enjoy probably the No. 1 stadium in the nation. Every seat has a great view. It is built for fans to be able to get them close to the action.”

Richardson added that the stadium is modeled after MLB stadiums. The new softball stadium houses team meeting rooms, locker rooms, an umpire room and athletic training facilities underneath the main level. As an extension to the side of the stadium, there are batting cages with offices above.

As well as debuting the new stadium, skill-wise, the Lady Flames also hope to improve upon last year’s season.

The Lady Flames will have to deal with the loss of 11 players from the 2014 squad, according to Richardson.

The Lady Flames will be without graduated senior outfielder Katie Zavodny, who, according to the Liberty Flames athletics website, was named to her third All-Big South team in 2014 and finished as Liberty’s all-time stolen-base leader with 111.

However, Richardson remains positive that the incoming players will have an immediate impact.

“This year with our nine new incomers on the team (and) their commitment to the returners, it’s a whole new ballgame,” Richardson said. “We are very excited about it.”
Eight new freshmen and junior transfer shortstop Mickey Loveridge will be seeking to aid the Lady Flames this season. Loveridge was a National Junior College First Team All-American selection in 2014.

The Lady Flames’ schedule will not come without challenges, as they have matchups versus defending national champion Florida, as well as perennially high-ranking schools such as the University of Central Florida, the University of Arkansas and the University of South Alabama.

Yet, Richardson and her team remember that no matter the outcome, it is their goal to take this season one step at a time.

“Our team’s goal right now is to live in the moment,” junior first basemen/ out fielder Katie Han said. “Make every moment count. Make every pitch count. Make every play count.”

With an 11-46 season in the past and the hope for improvement in the future, Richardson remains grounded in the fact that ultimately, she and her team are playing to glorify the Lord.

“The goal that we have … is to always remember that God has given each of us amazing gifts and opportunities,” Richardson said. “We honor him in our preparation to be the best we can be and to seize those opportunities and show the world our gifts. It’s never about winning or losing. It’s about being the best we can be, and in doing that, people see the gifts God’s given us.”

The Lady Flames will begin their 2015 campaign on the road Feb. 6 versus South Alabama, and they will play their first game in their new stadium March 19 versus Rider University.

RODRIGUEZ is a sports reporter.

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