Story by Collin Morris, Contributing writer
The Murray State Racers softball team is touting a roster pervaded by three effective attributes entering their fall season: team chemistry, a thirst for retribution and an abnormally large senior class.
After finishing last season with a disappointing 24-31 record (including a sub .500 conference record), Head Coach Kara Amundson has her sights set on success. Backed by the first seven players she ever recruited, Amundson said the team is looking forward to the season, especially conference play.
“Last year was a tough year for us in terms of our record and our production,” Amundson said. “I think we were a much better team than we showed last year and we’ll be working to prove to ourselves that we belong in the top of this conference as opposed to where we were in conference last year.”
The winningest coach in Murray State softball history puts faith in her seniors to lead the team towards accomplishing that goal.
“They’ve already done a great job of reaching everybody on the team,” Amundson said. “They’re all leaders in their own right, and I think they have a good vision of what they want as a senior class. They’re going to pull the reins pretty well.”
The Racer softball team will start their year with a series of eight fall league exhibition games beginning on Sept. 18 against the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. While these games won’t affect the team’s official record, Amundson believes the games will be critical in shaping the team’s identity for the regular season.
“What spring sports are looking for in their fall segments is to say, ‘this is what we envision our lineup to be but let’s put these puzzle pieces together, move players around and see where they thrive,’” Amundson said.
Unsurprisingly, Amundson is not the only Racer feeling enthusiastic about the team and their chances to find revitalization.
Senior Cayla Levins said, “Last year didn’t really go as we planned, so this year we’re really focused on getting better, making the OVC Tournament and winning it.”
Levins also addressed the increased role of herself and her fellow seniors, calling it an opportunity for the seven of them to, “really step it up and take the team with us.”
Additionally, Levins identified Jacksonville State as the game she’s most looking forward to revisiting.
“Jacksonville State obviously had a great season last season, going undefeated in the OVC, but I know last year we could’ve beat them,” Levins said, “I’m definitely looking forward to playing them again and beating them this year.”
Beyond her overall goals for the team, Levins has also spent time reflecting on her career as a softball player and a Murray State Racer, as well as herself as a person. When asked about her favorite memory during her time here, the four-year starter reminisced about her impressive grand slam last season in their win against Southeast Missouri State. The Florida native has also established a self-imposed high expectation since choosing her role model at a young age.
“In middle school, I really looked up to Tim Tebow,” she said. “As an athlete, he has been a really inspirational man when it comes to speaking his mind and being public about his faith. I really like that.”
Racer fans can look forward to seeing these players and coaches continue to embraces their expressed goals in a little over a month.
The softball team hosts their first two of six home exhibition games at 1 p.m. on Sept. 25 at Racer Field in a doubleheader against Union University.