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Mean Green softball opens with Texas Classic
Will Darnell / Intern
The day the Mean Green softball team has been eagerly awaiting has arrived as the team opens its season today against the University of Memphis Tigers as part of the three-game Texas Classic in Austin.
The eight-month offseason is over and the Mean Green is ready to build on last season’s successful campaign. Last season was only the Mean Green’s second ever with a winning record.
“We’re kind of tired of practicing, so we’re ready to go play somebody else other than ourselves,” head coach T.J. Hubbard said.
The team begins its quest by playing Memphis at 12:30 p.m. today, followed by playing the second half of the doubleheader against the University of Texas Longhorns at 6 p.m. The game with UT can be seen locally on the Longhorn Network.
Lesley Hirsch, a utility player and one of two seniors on the Mean Green roster, emphasized the importance of the togetherness of the team heading into the season opener.
“We all have this one common goal of going to the conference tournament and winning the conference championship game,” Hirsch said. “We all want it just as bad as the next person.”
Hirsch was in the top five of thirteen of the team’s statistical categories last season including hits, batting average, on base percentage and runs scored.
Hirsch said the team improved communication in the offseason by bonding as a team.
The increased team familiarity and chemistry will be a key component since the team begins play with eight freshmen on the roster. Hubbard said that integrating the young players will be important for the Mean Green to have a successful season.
“The upperclassmen have done a good job of taking them in, teaching them the ins and outs of the program and making them feel a lot more comfortable as student-athletes,” Hubbard said. “They’re definitely an integral part of the program.”
Brittany Simmons, a right-handed senior, leads a strong pitching staff this season. Simmons is coming off a personal best 11-win and 94-strikeout season. The 5’ 9” pitcher said that, although there isn’t a strong rivalry with any of this weekend’s teams, that does not make her want to beat them any less.
“The bigger teams, you always want to beat,” Simmons said. “I really want to beat every team that’s there. You don’t ever want to take any opponent lightly.”
The Mean Green closes out the opening weekend of action against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday at 10 a.m.