The SVSU softball team has high expectations for themselves going into this new season after winning the GLIAC conference tournament last May.
They will also look to make an even deeper run in the postseason after dropping their final game last year 7-2 to the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles in the NCAA Midwest No. 2 Regional Final.
“We are at the point where we need to play,” head coach Todd Buckingham said. “They are amped, optimistic and confident. We are playing two very tough teams to start the year, but we feel like we can hang with anyone.”
SVSU returns the majority of its core players from last year, including captains Anna Conrad, Aubree Mouthaan and Danielle Hamilton. The Cardinals also return Meredith Rousse, who was named to the Fastpitch News Pre-Season All-American team. She has also been listed on the NFCA Division II Top 50 Player of the Year watch list.
The Lady Cardinals are hungry to win the GLIAC regular season championship this year as well after coming close in the years prior to the 2018 season.
“I truly believe that this is our year to win the GLIAC conference,” Conrad said. “We have been so close the past couple of years, and I know we have the talent and heart to take that number one spot.”
The team’s preparation this offseason in the weight room and on the practice field has got them amped up for the season to begin.
“Our number one goal this year is to win the GLIAC regular season championship,” Buckingham said. “No SVSU softball team has ever won it, not even in 2011, when the program went to the World Series.”
Rousse also had a few comments on the expectations that the Lady Cardinals have put on themselves to succeed this season.
“We’ve been working hard in the weight room and practice, and we are more than ready to take the field and take care of business,” she said. “A lot of us are seniors, and it’s our last go around. We all just want to win and have fun.”
Saginaw Valley is not short on production this year. After leading the GLIAC last year in home runs (46), runs scored (287) and RBIs (264), they have a plethora of firepower at bat. In the bullpen, they have a solid rotation that has had valuable time this offseason to improve. Even though they graduated Annie Hansen and Samantha Willman, two senior pitchers from a year ago, the Cards are not short on confidence or ability on the mound.
“With our defense, hitting, pitching and team unity, our team is one that you can never sleep on,” Conrad said.
SVSU was picked to finish second in the GLIAC in the preseason poll.
“It feels great to be thought of so highly in the preseason poll, but no one knows yet the type of team that we have this year,” said Danielle Hamilton, who appeared in all 53 games last year. “I’m excited to get started.”