JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2013) – As the ETSU softball team progresses through the preseason, head coach Brad Irwin sat down with the media relations staff to answer some questions and update the fans and media about the status of the team.
Below are Coach Irwin’s responses to the first edition of the 2013 season.
1. Now that the team is less than two weeks from the start of the season, what are your thoughts on the overall progress thus far?
“I feel like the team is really progressing very well. We have been able to hit live quite a bit, and there is no substitute for live pitching from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. We really feel like the hitting, as a whole, is in a good place. We have really been focusing on the approach at the plate and becoming a more aggressive hitting team to increase our run production.
“Now that we are getting close to the start, the girls are really getting to the point where they just want to play. They are tired of hitting off each other and facing their teammates; they are ready to see somebody else.
“At this point, we feel good about where we are. We obviously still have a lot to work on and a long way to go, but I feel like we are about where we need to be.”
2. Has there been any single player who has had a really good preseason that could be considered the Preseason MVP to this point?
“From a pitching standpoint, Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) has really continued to progress and has had a lot of good bullpen sessions. She has been doing a good job in the live at bats and has continued to improve. We are really excited to see how she is going to perform when we get into the schedule.
“Offensively, Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) has really been hitting the ball well. She has found a little extra pop this year and has continued to improve through the live at bats and in-cage sessions. Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) has also been hitting the ball very well. She has been hitting with a little bit of power and bringing a lot to the table at the plate.”
3. We have a young team this year with seven freshmen, seven sophomores and then seven combined juniors and seniors. How do you feel about the youth on the roster?
“We definitely are a young team, but I like it because, as a group, the girls have brought new things to the table and a new atmosphere. This bunch is a really hard-working group and they have jumped right in. I do not worry about the fact that we are young because we obviously have not had the success we would have liked over the last few years, but that is part of the change of culture we are going through. This is a very talented group and we are looking for big things out of them.”
4. What is the one area of the game that you feel the team needs to have the biggest improvement in to be successful?
“Without a doubt, the biggest improvement this year has to be in the circle. Our game revolves around pitching and it is one of the areas where we just have not had the results we have needed in the past. Having a large pitching staff like we have this year, with four newcomers, we are really looking to enhance those performances. For us to be successful, the pitching really has to step up and perform. We need to get hitters out, force routine ground balls, force easy fly balls, and come in and hit.”
The ETSU softball team kicks off the 2013 season next Friday, Feb. 8, in Auburn Ala., at the Plainsmen Invite. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m., against Auburn.
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