The Lady Bisons softball season begins Saturday, Feb. 10, in Bentonville, Arkansas. Head coach Phil Berry said that the team will rely on its veteran leadership early on.
“Every season kind of stands on its own,” Berry said. “We look forward to our returners building on the success that they had last year, learning from those experiences and then sharing that information with our newcomers.”
This is the program’s fourth year at Harding. Last year, in only their third season, the team made it far into the postseason.
“We outright won the regular season conference championship, the conference tournament championship and then we hosted and won a NCAA Division II regional,” sophomore pitcher Amanda Berry said. “Then we hosted the Super Regional, where we were beat by the team that went on to win the whole thing.”
Last year, the semester ended and the summer began while the team was finishing their season. However, it did not stop the fans from coming out to support the team.
“We are just so blessed with both the student support and the community support for our softball program,” Phil Berry said. “As long as the weather is nice, we know we’re going to have good crowds and great support. Even when it’s cold, they’ll come out there and watch us play.”
Approximately 700 fans attended the Super Regionals sophomore catcher Katie Carney said. According to Carney, some fans were pulling over on the side of the road to watch the game.
“I feel like every single girl we have brought to the field is incredible on and off the field,” Carney said. “We have a lot of young talent. I think it’s going to be an incredible season.”
The Lady Bisons’ roster for this spring has 16 players with nine freshmen. They are second in the preseason polls.
“It’s always exciting, because freshmen bring new energy and new blood into the program,” Phil Berry said. “We’ve got a great group of nine freshmen this year and they have hit the ground running.”
The team gets along really well, according to freshman infielder Kayla Anderson. She said the team has great chemistry.
“They’re very eager to learn. We look forward to seeing what they can do once we start playing in a few weeks,” Phil Berry said. “It’s a very versatile roster, I’ve got several players that can play multiple positions.”
The Lady Bisons open their season against the Missouri Western State University Griffons at noon and the Emporia State University Hornets at 2 p.m. on Feb. 10 in the Division II UAM Softball Challenge in Bentonville, Arkansas. The two-day event concludes with matchups against the Northwest Missouri Bearcats and the University of Central Missouri Mules on Feb. 11 at noon and 2 p.m.