After losing seven seniors, most of whom were starters, the Augusta State softball team is starting a youth movement across the diamond.
The Lady Jaguars finished the 2012 season as runner-up in the NCAA Southeast Regional, closing the season at 33-18. With the loss, Augusta State saw seven college careers come to an end and a wave of new faces enter the mix.
Augusta State will field a roster of two seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and eight freshmen this season. Both the lineup and pitching staff will come down to who shows the most consistency as the season begins, coach Melissa Mullins said.
“There’s still a lot up in the air, a lot to be determined,” Mullins said. “We have a lot of options, but really what it will come down to at the end of this week is who is still hitting consistently, and we’ll work our lineup around that.”
Mullins said several freshmen could make an impact right away, including Casey Rowland and Kristen Bagley. Rowland is working between shortstop and third base, and Bagley could see time at third base, second base and the outfield.
Sophomore Brooke Stephens could split time between shortstop and catcher. Senior Laura Brown could play between second, first and the outfield.
Perhaps the biggest indication of the amount of youth on the team is the pitching staff, which consists of one junior and three freshmen.
“It makes it easier knowing you have the options,” Mullins said. “It’s good knowing if someone is having an off day, we can switch it up. We’ve got tons of potential. We just have to get past the learning stages of a lot of things in order to see that potential realized.”
Mullins said realizing the team’s potential could earn another trip back to regionals, where Augusta State has become a staple. The Lady Jaguars have been runner-up in the Southeast Regional three of the past four years.
“The mindset is we want to maintain where we’ve been as a program, realizing with so much inexperience it will take us a little while to keep moving forward and moving up,” Mullins said.
Augusta State opens the season at home with a doubleheader today against Anderson. The first game starts at noon.