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Contact: Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications
Young but Skilled EFSC Softball Team Set to Open 2014 Season
Jan. 23, 2014 - Eastern Florida State's softball team begins its quest for its seventh straight winning season and its 10th appearance in the state tournament in the last 11 seasons with four games in the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 JUCO Kickoff Classic and Showcase in Clearwater.
Eastern Florida, under head coach Ed Yanes, finished 30-27 overall and 9-7 and in third place in the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference last season.
Much of Eastern Florida's fate this season will lie in the gloves and bats of 13 freshmen who complement the five sophomores on the roster.
"Being freshman heavy this year simply means we need to get on the same page after the long break faster, and if we as a team did what we needed during the down time, we should be OK," said Yanes.
"Our sophomore captains need to set the tone at the very least by their actions on and off the field regardless of how they may be doing that very moment. With a 55+ game season peaks and valleys will happen. If we stay together they all (freshman and sophomores) will have their time to shine."
The sophomores are co-captains outfielders Devin Williams and Bri Seamen, pitcher/outfielder Brooke Formby and shortstop/third baseman/catcher Manya Lopez. Sam Walters returns after an injury to play third base.
Aside from leadership the sophomores also will be counted on to supply the foundation for an offense that lost 188 runs batted in with the graduation losses of All-Americans Cassie Boggs and Katrina Ammons, and Shannen Marchu.
Eastern Florida's offense was prolific enough that the Titans finished the 2012-2013 season ranked 11th in batting average at .361; 16th nationally in runs batted in with 354; 17th in hits with 580; 20th in triples with 14; 20th in on base percentage at .414; and 24th in runs with 364.
"That was a potent lineup last year and to find that kind of run producing bats will needless to say, be extremely difficult," Yanes said.
"We feel the captains we have put in place to lead us bring a different approach to leading and they have proven to fill that void well."
But offense alone doesn't win games and Yanes will be looking to his pitching and defense. Formby, a lefthander, will anchor the pitching staff that added freshmen right-handers Hannah Denny, Dajia Jones and Yesi Moreno.
"We feel we should have a solid staff in the circle and behind them once we get it dialed in a bit more in the early spring, we will be fine," Yanes said. "As for our pitchers we like to use a rotation. With a good rotation it helps maintain the arms throughout the season."
Yanes' approach goes deeper than that though as he utilizes a vigorous conditioning program in hopes of his players being fit when it counts despite all the demands of high-level intercollegiate competition.
"We try to use the fall to prepare them physically and mentally for the long and often very fast paced road ahead," Yanes said. "Over the past years aside from some minor issues we feel playing and conditioning as they do has done just that.
"In the perfect world arms stay strong in the circle, bats stay strong and the cardio keeps this all together. The main difference we focus on with them is the pace at which everything will come at them. Class projects/school work, study hall, 5:30 a.m. CrossFit, practice, games two to three times a week while balancing a little bit of fun in between."
Eastern Florida opens its home season on the Palm Bay Campus on Tuesday, Feb. 4 with a 4 and 6 p.m. doubleheader against Seminole State.
The Titans open their 16-game conference schedule at home on Saturday, March 15 against Palm Beach State. Other teams in the conference are defending champion Miami Dade College, Indian River State – which was ranked No. 1 nationally for a time last season – and Broward College.
Admission to Eastern Florida home games is free.