An established group of seniors is expected to lead an Augusta State softball team seeking more than just a conference runner-up showing this season.
The Lady Jaguars enter this season with last year’s finish still fresh in their minds.
After sweeping two games against North Georgia during conference play, the Lady Jaguars fell to the Lady Saints in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament finals, and then to Flagler in the second round of the Southeast Regional.
With the core of the team returning for its senior season, Augusta State is looking to improve upon its 35-20 record.
“I have seven seniors, three of which have been here all four years,” coach Melissa Mullins said. “We have great leadership on the field in the abilities the girls have. I do have high expectations. It can either go really, really well or really, really bad. I think they set the tone for the rest of the team.”
The Lady Jaguars return three award winners from a year ago. Kristen Jones was named a second-team All-American last year, the first such award given to an Augusta State softball player. She had a .572 slugging percentage with seven home runs while playing both outfield and catcher.
Kacee Camp finished in the top 10 in the conference in batting average, hits and stolen bases (26) while recording a .418 on-base percentage. The shortstop was named second-team all-
A third member expected to lead on offense is Jessica Thornton, who had a .678 slugging percentage with 12 home runs. Her slugging percentage earned a first-team all-conference award, and she also led the Lady Jaguars in batting average at .397.
“We have a great group of seniors, for sure,” Jones said. “Just all around, the pitching staff, defense. I think it’s going to be really good experience wise, and hopefully the younger girls can learn something from it.”
The Lady Jaguars also return all three pitchers from last season, including two seniors. Heather Hughes led the team with 165.2 innings last year, recording a 2.37 ERA with 57 strikeouts. Emily Headrick recorded a 2.29 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 158⅔ innings, but also sacrificed some outs for strikeouts by walking 64.