Softball team starts season strong

Junior utility player Amy Carden prepares to swing against West Alabama last season. The softball team is 11-1 so far this year.

The UNA softball team is on a roll and does not plan to slow down anytime soon.

The Lions opened the season with a 12-2 win over defending national champion North Georgia. UNA is 11-1 and has not played a home game.

The team is focused on the positives in their hot start, said UNA head coach Ashley Cozart.

“It feels great at the beginning of the year,” she said. “I was really happy with how we approached this weekend. We did a bunch of things right.”

Cozart said the pitchers are one of the key reasons for the early season success.

“Our pitching staff kept us in every game,” she said. “We only gave up five runs in four games. I’m really proud of that.”

The best way to support dominant pitching is good hitting, and Cozart said the players have been swinging the bats with efficiency.

“We came out that first game hitting well,” she said. “Brooklynn Clark came out and hit a two run home run against North Georgia in the first inning. Right out of the gate, we were hitting the ball well. We were aggressive, and I loved our mentality.”

Winning games early on helps build team chemistry, said sophomore shortstop Reagan Tittle.

“The atmosphere is good in the locker room,” Tittle said. “It felt good to go out there, take care of business and get all the nerves out.”

After a loss in the NCAA regionals ended last year’s season, UNA had to make improvements right away in order to succeed. Tittle said the improvements are visible early on.

“We hit the ball better this year,” Tittle said. “We struggled sometimes last year, but we do a better job now of getting consecutive hits. We also scored a lot of runs this weekend.”

As the team continues progression, the individual players notice some improvements of their own, said junior pitcher Hillary Carpenter.

“I know it’s still the beginning of the season, but the past two games I pitched, I didn’t hit anybody,” Carpenter said. “That was a goal of mine. I cut down a lot of my walks and hits so far.”

Carpenter said looking ahead during the softball season is impossible.

“Right now, I’m just thinking about tomorrow,” she said. “I like to take it day-by-day. I always have something to work on, and that keeps me from never getting bored.”

The Lions host No. 6 Valdosta State in a three game series beginning Feb. 12 to open up conference play.