In just two seasons Head Coach Wendy Hogue helped lead the Golden Eagles to their most successful season since 2004. The Golden Eagles posted their first 30-win season since the ’04 season and won the Conference USA West Division, but ended their season in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The biggest contributing factor to the team’s success was having statistical improvement in almost every category.
The biggest and most significant jump was the team’s earned run average. In the 2015 season, the team averaged a 4.47 ERA and dropped it to a 3.62 in 2016.
The emergence of junior Samantha Robles last season helped the pitching staff achieve such success. In the 2015 season, Robles had a 2.62 ERA in only 34.1 innings pitched. Her role increased last season, pitching a 2.92 ERA in 196.1 innings becoming the team’s ace; her production is imperative for any success in the upcoming season.
At the plate, the team will have their two best hitters from last season returning. The most productive bat returning is Lauren Holifield who led the team in runs batted in, a slugging percentage of .626 and a .431 on-base percentage.
Senior Tori Dew will also look to be a major contributor in the batting lineup bringing with her a .324 batting average last season. The team as a whole hit .278 but had an on-base percentage of .359. If the team can return with a similar on-base percentage then the main focus will be increasing the batting average in order to bring in on more runs.
This year the team will face several challenges, having to play seven teams that made the NCAA tournament last season which includes: McNeese State, Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Jacksonville State and Florida Atlantic. Last season, the Golden Eagles faced four teams that were ranked in the collegiate Top 25 and won one game against Florida Atlantic on Mar. 25, going 1-9.
One of the Golden Eagles’ goals for this season should be taking wins from ranked opponents. They can and will most likely have this opportunity against previously ranked opponents such as LSU, Alabama and ULL.
After posting a 14-10 record in conference play last season, a major goal for the team is to become more efficient in conference play. The Golden Eagles lost several winnable games last season that may have been the difference in conference seeding, or receiving an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
The Golden Eagles’ goals this season are simple.
They should be focused on repeating as the regular season champs of the Conference USA West, beat the ranked teams, go farther in the conference tournament and overall make the NCAA tournament. The Golden Eagles have enough returning starters from last season to duplicate, or have even more success than last season.
The Lady Eagles start the season at McNeese State on Feb. 9 in Lake Charles, La. First pitch will be at 6 p.m.