After finishing third last year in the East Division of the OVC, the Racer softball team is predicted to finish third again this season, according to the annual preseason poll taken by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.
Head Coach Kara Amundson is not surprised with the team’s predicted ranking.
She said that often times, the preseason polls match up with how teams finish the previous season and are not always how teams will finish the next season.
Amundson strongly believes the team can finish the season higher than third.
“I think we’re very capable to end up on the top of that division,” she said. “I think that is something we’re working towards every day.”
This third place ranking is an extra incentive for the team to show the rest of the division Murray State should be at the top of the list rather than third.
“It’s kind of like motivation,” senior catcher Ellyn Troup said. “We’re going to prove everyone else wrong.”
Troup hopes to finish strong for her senior season. Personally, she wants to stay calm, do her job and have fun this season.
The ultimate goal for the team is to come out on top of the division and win the OVC championship, she said.
“That’s one of the things that I haven’t accomplished yet that I would very much like to,” Troup said.
Amundson said she feels the team is definitely on track for a first-place finish. The freshmen players have been mixing well with the returning players, and Amundson is very proud of how the team has come together so far this year.
“The team chemistry has been phenomenal,” she said. “It has been a joy to coach them so far.”
In previous years, the Racers have been ranked low in the preseason polls and have ended up finishing much higher than predicted.
The team sees this as a good thing, because the other teams in the conference will underestimate how the Racers will finish the season.
UT Martin and Eastern Illinois were selected to finish ahead of the Racers. Both teams are good contenders, but Amundson does not believe they are impossible to defeat.
“They are teams we can compete with everyday and should be able to beat,” she said.
Amundson is confident the team is prepared for the competition in their division and understands they must play at the top of their game.
The Racers have been working hard in practice, sometimes through undesirable weather conditions, to prepare themselves for the tough conference games this season.
With good team chemistry and a little extra motivation, both Amundson and Troup feel that this year’s team is prepared for an exciting season.
The Racers’ first game of the season is Feb. 15 at Mississippi State. They kick off conference play at home on March 16 at 12 p.m. against Southeast Missouri.
Story by Megan Kavy, Contributing writer.