MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Competing for conference titles became the expectation for the Huntingdon softball team as a member of the Great South Athletic Conference.
Entering its first season in the USA South Athletic Conference, the expectation hasn't changed.
"We're taking the same attitude and expectations into the new conference," head coach Gynger Williams said. "We had success in the GSAC and we made it to a regional two years ago. Our goal this season is to compete for the USA South title and try to make it back to a regional.
"It's going to be tough and it's going to be challenging, but we feel like we can compete. We just have to be ready to play each game."
With 18 players returning from a 25-11 team and 11 newcomers, the Lady Hawks enter the season ranked third in the USA South preseason poll. Huntingdon has to replace GSAC Pitcher of the Year Melissa McClure and GSAC Player of the Year Brittany Richardson, but Williams is encouraged by the competition she has seen in the preseason.
"Each of the seniors is a proven leader and they all bring something to the table," Williams said. "And we have several newcomers who are showing a lot of potential. It's encouraging to see so many players competing and pushing for playing time."
Williams said one of the biggest keys will be the performance of Huntingdon's pitchers and living up to the expectations set by McClure and 2011 and 2012 GSAC Pitcher of the Year Bree Giordana.
"Pitching is always the key and our pitchers know that," Williams said. "The past three years, we've had the conference Pitcher of the Year and that's a tradition we want to keep going in our new conference.
"Brooke Meadows pitched well for us last year and we're going to count on her this season. Katy Messick is new to the team, but she is coming on strong too, and Anna Stephens and Kaitlynn Wiggins are both throwing the ball well. We're going to need all of them this season."
Huntingdon opens the season on Friday with a doubleheader at Spring Hill. The Badgers, the NAIA national runner-up last season, are ranked No. 2 in the NAIA preseason poll.