MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon softball team hasn't forgotten how the 2011 season ended.
Huntingdon reached the finals of the Great South Athletic Conference tournament, but lost twice to Piedmont. The Lady Hawks had more they wanted to accomplish.
This season, Huntingdon wants to build off of last year and learn from the late-season letdown.
"Our whole saying for this season is 'unfinished business'," senior shortstop Aleah Payne said. "That's all we've thought about during the offseason and in the preseason.
"Last year, it came down to us letting them beat us twice at the end. We started off strong and we didn't finish. This year we have to be ready to finish."
Head coach Gynger Williams said her team's motivation has been evident leading into this weekend's season-opener. The Lady Hawks open the season on Saturday in the Birmingham-Southern Invitational.
"This is probably the most self-motivated team I've ever had in my coaching career. They've really taken it upon themselves to get better," Williams said. "I feel like we're a team where all of us have the same vision. We've got a plan to compete and win the conference, and hopefully compete at the regional and national level."
In addition to being self-motivated, the group is one of Williams' most experienced. The group of returning players includes six seniors (Payne, Brittney Fox, Bree Giordana, Hayley Praytor, Angela Barkman and Kristi Taylor), two All-Region players (Payne and Holly Ostrander), the GSAC Pitcher of the Year (Giordana) and three All-GSAC selections (Giordana, Payne and Ostrander).
"This is the most depth we've had since I've been here. We have a lot of versatile players that can play multiple positions," Williams said. "Being healthy will be a key component, but if everyone is healthy, we have some experienced players at almost every position and we also have some strong new players coming in that will push for playing time."
The Lady Hawks expect to learn a lot more about themselves this weekend at Birmingham-Southern.
Huntingdon plays Birmingham-Southern at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Centre at 2 p.m. Huntingdon will play Alabama A&M at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
"This will be a good test to start the season," Payne said. "If we can build our confidence at the beginning of the season, I think it will carry on the rest of the year."