Lady Demons gearing for season opener on Friday - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Lady Demons gearing for season opener on Friday

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NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - Following a season of great success and records, the Northwestern State softball team looks to make 2014 an even better one as it kicks off its intense 50-game schedule on Friday at the Troy Subway Invitational in Troy, Ala., with contests against North Florida, the host Trojans, Alabama and Middle Tennessee State.

The Lady Demons return the entire infield for the third season in a row, and have brought in a strong 10-member freshman class that will add a world of depth and talent to the already impressive squad, who claimed the program's fourth Southland Conference tournament championship and berth to the NCAA Tournament last season.

"To say we have talent is an understatement, so we're really focusing on bringing that talent together to make it a final product," said sixth-year head coach Donald. Pickett. "With such an experienced infield, we're really leaning on them to be the backbone of this team."

After a team vote, seniors Cali Burke, Kaylee Guidry, Tara McKenney and Brianna Rodriguez have been named captains, and will lead the team alongside a number of other strong individuals.

The entire infield received preseason All-Southland Conference accolades, including first team selection Rodriguez, who will anchor the first base corner along with junior Brittany Virgoe on the opposite side at third. McKenney and Burke will hold down the middle at shortstop and second base, respectively.

Behind the plate, Cheyenne DelaGarza, who notched All-Southland honorable mention last season, returns after putting a dent in the NSU individual record book, recording a .993 fielding percentage (fifth) in 2013.

Guidry, Rodriguez, McKenney and Virgoe also notched College Sports Madness preseason first team honors, along with Pickett selected for preseason coach of the year, announced Monday morning.

The outfield trio is still in the works as returners Shenequia Abby and Natalie Landry compete for positions with freshman Brittney Jones, Amanda Fulkerson and Micayla Sorosiak, who each bring their own special talents.

Guidry will lead from the circle after nailing down a 2.06 era while striking out 76 batters in 98.1 innings last season. She sets the pace for a young group of pitchers composed of sophomore Baylee Gray and four freshman, including fall season standouts Skylar Cagle and Micaela Bouvier.

Seven returners garner spots in the NSU individual and career records books, highlighted by McKenney and Rodriguez holding six different marks in the two ledgers.

On top of the league-high six preseason All-Southland Conference selections, NSU has been chosen to share the 2014 crown with league foe McNeese State, as voted upon by head coaches and sports information directors throughout the league.

The Lady Demons received 77 points in the coaches' poll and 69 points in the SID poll, while notching four first-place votes from the coaches and five from the SIDs.

Northwestern State opens its home slate on Feb. 14 with a three-game series against Mississippi Valley State at five o'clock at the Lady Demon Softball Complex.

 

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