Softball team continues hot streak

Freshman right fielder Destiny Wright fields a ground ball during the series finale against Mississippi College April 10 at the UNA Softball Complex. The Lions have won 23 of their last 24 games and hold the No. 6 ranking in the national poll.

by Associate Sports Editor Justin Jefferies

With a 40-5 overall record and a No. 6 ranking in the national poll, the UNA softball team is experiencing the best statistical season in school history.

With the April 9-10 sweep of Mississippi College, the Lions improved to a 24-3 conference record and are in position to host the Gulf South Conference tournament April 28.

“These girls are just so much fun (to coach),” said UNA head coach Ashley Cozart. “It’s just someone new stepping up everyday.”

The Lions have added multiple accolades to the trophy case this season.

Senior first baseman Brooklynn Clark broke the school’s single season record for RBIs April 10 with her 53rd of the season. Junior pitcher Hillary Carpenter shattered the career mark for most wins by a UNA pitcher earlier in the season, earning win No. 59 April 9.

Numerous players, including Clark, senior outfielder Courtney Shields and sophomore shortstop Reagan Tittle, have received GSC player of the week honors throughout the season. Cozart hit a milestone of her own, earning win No. 100 as UNA’s coach, as well as No. 300 in her head coaching career.

Clark said team chemistry is the key to this season’s record-breaking pace.

“This team is special,” Clark said. “We have good team chemistry, and I think that goes a long way in all the success we’ve had this year.”

Many players credit the power of positivity to the historic run, said senior infielder Harlie Barkley.

“Nobody ever really has a bad attitude about anything, and everybody is always positive,” Barkley said. “I think chemistry can be a lot more important than talent, and this team has the best chemistry of any team I’ve ever been a part of. We’re a family on and off the field.”

The team has won 23 of the last 24 games, with the one loss coming against Alabama-Huntsville April 2. After a home loss to Truman State Feb. 20, the loss before the 24-game stretch, Cozart said she decided to make the practices more enjoyable for the players.

“After (the losses), I said, ‘We are going to start having a purpose behind our practices,’” she said.

Cozart said she started using themed practices during the week, such as “Mend-it Monday,” where the team works on improving individually, and “Team Tuesday” where the team participates in fun but competitive competitions.

The goal was to reap the most out of her players while making sure they are always having fun, she said.

Cozart said in the preseason she had a hunch this team would be special.

“I think all along I knew that we were going to be good,” Cozart said “It’s just you never know until you put it all together.”

The Lions look to stay hot April 16-17 as they host Gulf South Conference foe Union University at the UNA Softball Complex.