The Lady Eagle softball team is looking to continue their recent success as the 2023 season opener is now 4 days away.
Over the past few seasons, Oklahoma Christian softball has not only been a top contender in the Lone Star Conference, but a regular in the nationwide top 25 poll.
Assistant coach, Hunter Hays, spoke on the program’s recent success.
“We have been a solid program for a long time, and these last couple of years have really shown our talent and ability,” Hays said. “We are one of the top division II programs in the country.”
Last year, the Lady Eagles tied for third in the Lone Star with a 22-8 conference record. They also finished top five in the South Central region, earning them a bid to the NCAA Division II regional round.
The Eagles did lose some key players from last season, including Lindsey Stoeckel, winner of the Mrs. Eagle award, and five-year pitcher Kali Crandall. However, Stoeckel still remains involved with Oklahoma Christian softball as she serves as the graduate assistant for this year’s team.
In replacement of the two five-year starters, Head Coach Shalee Rodriguez obtained two key additions on the recruiting trail. These include the 2021 Lone Star Conference pitcher of the year Payton Foster, and freshman Marissa Powell, who was named the Fort Worth area’s top prep softball player in 2022.
The new additions come with returners as well: Trysten Hamilton, Aaliyah Brown, Brooklin Bain and Chloe Woodward, all of whom started at least 40 games last season.
“We are excited about the team this year and how the roster came together,” Hays said. “Payton [Foster] will be huge for us in the circle, and Marissa [Powell] is just another addition to the lineup.”
The Eagles were picked as a top-five team in the conference and are projected to finish fifth. University of Texas-Tyler is expected to finish first for the third straight season.
“As we get closer to the opening day, we are just focusing on us and what we are doing day-to-day,” Hays said. “We are very comfortable in our ability.”
Oklahoma Christian starts their 2023 campaign on Friday, Feb. 3 in Houston, TX in a double-header against Augustana University (South Dakota) and Regis University (Colorado).
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