MONROEVILLE – Last season, Alabama Southern's Lady Eagle softball team had some adjusting to do.
They had new coaches, new schemes and higher expectations and that translated into some success on the field in what everyone knew to be a rebuilding year. After some early bumps, the team slid into season's end with a record of 21-35.
This year, second-year head coach Brooke Powell is expecting more out of her squad, which lost 11 players to graduation and has only three starters coming back. Returning to coach with Powell are Kirby Baxter, who coached on last year's squad, and newcomer Kristy Burton, who comes from the University of South Alabama.
To get the team ready, Powell scheduled a murderer's row of opponents in the fall season, including bouts against Jacksonville State, UAB, South Alabama and the ACCC State Champions, Southern Union.
"We got exposed to the fire in the fall," Powell said. "It is good to go up against quality competition. It lets you know where you stand and where you need to do some improving."
The Eagles added transfer student Kendall Cox to the roster to provide some leadership and experience to this year's team, which sports 11 freshmen on the roster.
"We have some speed and some athleticism," Powell said. "However, we are young. I think this will be a group that will be fun to watch this spring."
The team won't have long to wait before seeing prime competition. The Lady Eagles open the season at the Chipola Classic Tournament in Florida, which features some of the top-ranked teams in the NJCAA.
"We will be playing some teams that made it to the state and national tournament last season," Powell said. "That should get us tuned up for conference play later on in the year."
One big thing the Lady Eagles can expect this season are some upgrades to the home field in Monroeville. The pressbox has been redone and the field looks to be in prime shape for the start of the season.
"We appreciate the upgrades that were done to our facility," Powell said. "It shows we're taking pride in the program and we hope people will come out and watch us play."
To encourage people to come out to the games, Powell has some special events planned throughout the season, including Youth Day on March 14 and Sophomore Day on April 18.
The Lady Eagles begin their season on February 2 on the road at Poplarville, Mississippi to take on Pearl River Community College. The first home game is Wednesday, February 4 when the Lady Eagles play host to East Central Community College. Action for the doubleheader begins at 2 p.m. at the field in Monroeville.
For a full schedule of the Lady Eagles' games, please visit www.ascc.edu.