RiverHawks softball season nears its start
TNE Editor

RiverHawks softball season nears its start

Published 1/29/18


Austin Headlee

TNE Writer

The NSU RiverHawks softball season is starting soon. The team will lean on its experienced leadership comprised of many juniors and seniors. The team is anticipating the start of the season.

“We are excited to get going,” said Clay Davis, NSU softball head coach. “We really like where our team is at.”

The team will look toward the upperclassmen for leadership on and off the field. The upperclassmen have played many games together, building a strong chemistry. The senior starters will serve as mentors to the incoming freshmen, including two freshmen pitchers, during their final season on the field. 

“Our team chemistry is maybe the best it has ever been since I have been here,” said Davis. “We have great senior leadership, great leadership overall as far as our upperclassmen go.”

Hailey Acrey, All-American junior third baseman from Baytown, Texas, knows she must be a leader for the rest of the team. Having the All-American title makes her leadership even more meaningful.

“I just have to be a leader both off and on the field,” said Acrey. “I have to continue to work hard to make sure I am setting as an example for everybody. I must go in and give all my best on the field so that everyone can see, and they can work as hard as I am.”

Having the starting lineup comprised of mostly upperclassmen will be a strength for the team heading into the season. The upperclassmen feed off one other and challenge each other to better themselves.

“That is the really cool thing about having so many upper classmen on our team,” said Davis. “They understand the meaning of work, they understand the meaning of extra. I do not to have to really try to convince them into coming in to do more. They challenge themselves to do more.”

Sylver Collins, senior pitcher from Stilwell, is the only returning pitcher from last year’s team. Collins will serve as a starter for the team and as a mentor for the two freshmen pitchers. Gail Young, freshman pitcher from Collinsville, is a left-handed pitcher who led her high school team to the state championship. Sydney Balderrama, freshman pitcher from Tyler, Texas, throws the ball hard, at times throwing it around 60 miles per hour, and continues to become a better pitcher every day. 

Davis calls the players behind the pitcher’s mound “The Million-Dollar-Infield,” which includes the All-American Acrey and Paige Gann, senior first baseman from Muskogee. Gann looks to be consistent and build off her confidence from last season heading into the season. 

“Last year was a big year for me offensively,” said Gann. “This year I am just going to build off that confidence and build off what I learned last year and different pitches people throw at me and hit the pitches I do not get to see very often.”

Gann has averaged 33 hits and 11 home runs a season during her career at NSU. Gann is a senior leader for the team who credits her teammates for her defensive play after only allowing only a single error last season and two errors the year before. 

“I have been playing first base since I have gotten here,” said Gann. “A big part of me not making errors very much is my defense around me because they do not make bad throws. Our pitching staff is pretty dynamic overall, so I do not get any balls to me that are super tough plays. So being consistent is a big hats off to my teammates around me.”

Softball season starts at 10 a.m. on Feb. 2 at the Ronnie Hawkins Invitational in Arkadelphia, Ark. The RiverHawks will start their four-game series playing two games Feb. 2 and two games on Feb. 3.


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