Last year, the Waynesburg University softball team started off the season going 2-6 at the Fast Pitch Dreams Spring Classic. The team then went on to finish the season 8-26. This year, the Jackets look to improve upon those eight wins. The 2020 team returns six players from last season and adds seven freshmen.
The freshman class features Lauren Lober, Brin Hunter, Kaylee Stewart, Hayley Livengood, Reghan Benschoter and Mackenzie Carpenter. Second-year coach Brett Sminek is excited about each of these new players, and how they can contribute to the upcoming season.
“Each of these freshmen that we have are all very talented,” Shimek said. “Mixing them in with the upperclassmen that we have now, things look very bright this upcoming season, but we will see how things go.”
With this new look team, Waynesburg still brings back key pieces from last year, such as junior pitcher Emma Kubalak, who appeared in 19 games last season, and started all of them. Along with Kubalak, returns senior catcher Rachel Skon, who has started in 98 games over the last three seasons, and has been first-team All-PAC the last two.
“These two have been big for us the last few years,” Shimek said. “They are going to be great for us this year.”
The team also added a transfer this year, that played at Marietta the previous two seasons. The transfer is Kayla Alderson, a junior from Chartiers-Houston that led Marietta in batting average, (.353), slugging percentage, (.481), homeruns (3) and RBI (19) while starting all 36 games.
“Kayla is going to help us a lot this year,” Shimek said. “She adds a powerful bat in our lineup that I’m very excited to see.”
To start off this upcoming season, the Jackets will travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where they’ll play in the Fast Pitch Dreams Spring Classic for the second consecutive year.
The team will play teams such as Otterbein, William Peace, Wesley, Wilkes, and Hilbert College on the trip.
“Right out the gate we’re going to get tested,” Shimek said.“The teams that we will play down in Myrtle Beach, some of them won 20 plus games last year, some of them qualified for the national tournament, so we will get a chance to play against some great teams while we’re down there.”
Waynesburg was picked to finish last in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, the same place it finished last season. However, being picked last lights a fire under Shimek.
“Being picked last gets me excited because we have the opportunity to prove something and prove people wrong,” Shimek said. “We haven’t been a .500 team for a long time, we as a team and coaching staff want to get Waynesburg softball back to where it once was.”
Waynesburg opens up the 2020 season Wednesday, March 4 at 9:30 a.m. at the Fast Pitch Dreams Spring Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Jackets will take on Otterbein.