This past weekend, the Tech softball team kicked off their 2020 season with the 21st annual Buzz Classic series here at Mewborn Field. Although the Jackets started out with losses against University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Washington, they ended the weekend with a 5-3 victory over the Ohio Bobcats.
Reflecting on the Buzz Classic as the team moves into their season with another home series against Nebraska on Valentine’s Day weekend, the Technique sat down with some of the softball squad and staff to get a glimpse into the roster and overall goals for the upcoming season. Softball Head Coach Aileen Morales has invested countless hours in this team. Not only as a coach but also as a former Tech softball athlete herself, Coach Morales knows what it takes to build a successful unit and team.
Although the overall weekend record might not reflect it, Morales discussed how proud she was of her girls and said, “We got better every single game. As a team, we saw that we can pitch and hit with anyone in the country.”
Morales pointed out how the Tech team started out really testing their limits by playing back to back games against Washington, who is currently ranked number one.
Coach Morales said the games “taught us about where our team is and how great our team can be. Our team grew each game and I loved seeing how invested they were in each other.” There is nothing like kicking off your season with a good challenge, but seeing Morales and the rest of the squad rally around each other shows fierce signs of motivation and ultimately immense potential as the Jackets move into the rest of their season.
Assistant Coach Caroline Hardy joined the staff midway through 2019 and is excited for what this season could hold. With five new rookie faces added to the roster this year, Hardy shared the freshmen class’s biggest strength is their “servant leadership and great work ethic.”
Hardy said, “They work hard every day to make the people around them better. It has also been exciting to see [freshman] Emma Kauf develop in a leadership role as well.” Kauf scored her first home run during her first collegiate at-bat in the UAB matchup.
Hardy went on to emphasize how Kauf and transfer pitcher Lexi Ray are going to be strong players to watch this season. According to Hardy, they both “work extremely hard to raise the bar for themselves and the people around them.”
This is the kind of motivation a team needs to be the best they can be, and how inspirational that the energy runs all the way through the freshmen class.
Junior Breanna Roper, is a rising player and leader for the softball team this year. Last season she led the NCAA in hits (71) and led the ACC in doubles (18) for the majority of the season and started all 58 games at second base. Roper said she is most excited about the UNC series because they “always play competitively against each other and it’s all about who’s going to compete that day.”
As Roper looks to what is ahead for the program, she talked about how much she loves this program and wants to “leave the program better than [she] found it.”
Coach Morales has put together a competitive season for the Jackets squad, and in her words it the “most competitive schedule put together since her arrival.” With high expectations in the horizon, the team looks to reach their goals of “winning the ACC and making it to NCAA regionals” according to Hardy.
And with the mentality of positive energy and strong motivation from the rookie athletes to the veteran players to the empowered staff, there is clear potential for this 2020 team.