Written by Nic Fraraccio // Photo by Balazs Balassa
The Harding softball team has started their season off in dominant fashion, and three Lady Bisons have continued to lead the offensive onslaught.
Nicole Shano, Leigha Harris and Emma Curry have continued to impress Bison fans and opposing teams. The trio bats consecutively in the lineup and has combined for 54% of Harding’s total runs batted in (RBI).
Shano, a senior infielder from Peoria, Arizona, is coming off a record-breaking junior season. The third basewoman broke the Harding record for the most home runs in a season with 15. Shano was also included in the 2022 All-Great American Conference (GAC) first team.
Shano said one of the biggest factors in her success as a Lady Bison is the constant support from her teammates and coaching staff.
“The team chemistry is great,” Shano said. “I know every single one of those people has my back on the field no matter what.”
Harris, a sophomore infielder from Duncan, Oklahoma, has proved to be one of the best hitters in the conference. In 2022, Harris was named the GAC Freshman of the Year. Harris posted a .395 batting average and led the team in hits with 70.
Despite being a key piece in the Lady Bisons lineup, Harris said every player is a tough out for opposing pitchers.
“It’s going to be hard to find a pitcher to stop us,” Harris said. “You may stop one of us, but you are not going to stop all of us.”
Curry, a sophomore infielder from Washington, Oklahoma, has continued to be one of Harding’s best utility players. Curry was named to the All-GAC first team and led the team in doubles during the 2022 season.
Curry said the team feeds off of momentum even if someone isn’t having a good game at the plate.
“If someone’s not having the best game, there is always someone next in the lineup that can pick them up,” Curry said.
Shano, Harris and Curry have strengthened the lineups’ core over the last two seasons, but they also lead off the playing field for the Lady Bisons.
Junior catcher Chelsea Blankenship said the trio is loving, confident and hilarious. Blankenship also said the women have created “a beautiful opportunity for friendship” for their teammates and coaching staff.
“We all have an identity in Christ,” Blankenship said. “I don’t think there is anyone on the team that genuinely doesn’t care for another person.”
As the season continues, Shano said she wants to see the stands filled with students when the Lady Bisons play at home.
The Lady Bisons will host the Southern Arkansas University Muleriders for a three-game series beginning today.