Softball uses fall games to strengthen chemistry for spring season


Team chemistry is the main component for the UNF softball teams’ success in their fall warm-up games and the upcoming season.

“We haven’t lost a lot of players from last year, and we just added two really good freshmen, so we still have a strong team,” said sophomore pitcher Shaina Dent, who was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman team for her performance in the pitching circle last season. “We have a really great chemistry, which I think will definitely help us this season because you want to love your team.”

In order to prepare for the spring season and big games against teams like Florida Gulf Coast, the UNF softball team has already started practicing. They are doing conditioning, weightlifting and individual training, UNF softball Head Coach Marcie Hickey said. They are especially working with the two new freshmen to get them ready to compete.

The new additions to the team include a quick outfielder with a strong power slap and freshman catcher Jackie Reese, who will be replacing last year’s top hitter Ashley Battaglia, the team’s student assistant, Hickey said. The team also has a new assistant coach, Janice Savage, who will work a lot with the pitchers and hitters this season.

“Last year we had five starting freshmen, and one was on the mound. They got some good game experience, but we didn’t have anyone to work with them, which hurt us a little,” Hickey said. ”I think she’ll really help us, especially now that we’re in Division I.”

Although the UNF softball team is excited to be at the Division I level, they are not ready for their spring season just yet, Hickey said. To help them gear up for next semester, the team will participate in a series of practice games this fall.

The fall games will be a good tune up for the team and give them a general idea on where they are headed, she said.

The Ospreys have six opening games, including a number of doubleheaders against some junior colleges, one versus Florida Southern and one against the alumni. Their first game will be Sept. 26 against Florida Southern.

The Ospreys will return this spring with a powerful lineup just in time for their first big season in a full-fledged Division I program. The softball team did have some experience playing bigger teams last year such as FSU, USF and UCF, but they are still showing enthusiasm about the teams they will face this season.

“Of course I’m a little intimidated, but I’m excited to join UNF and play some of the bigger teams,” Reese said.

Both Dent and Reese said they are especially excited to play the University of Florida because they are the No. 2 ranked softball team in the Southeastern Conference. Some other teams UNF will face include Ohio State, and NC State, Hickey said.

“For us to be successful and go onto to our conferences, we need to play these big games early,” Hickey said.