By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
On Friday and Saturday, the Toppers will play Johnson C. Smith University at 10 a.m., and then they will play Queens University at 3 p.m. on Friday and again at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Last season, the Lady Toppers finished the season with a 15-31 overall record and an 8-24 record in conference games. Four seniors graduated from that 15-win team, so there will be a lot of new faces on the field on opening day. These new players are eager to be in the mix of the Mountain East Conference (MEC).
Returning players that will make an impact on this year’s team will be seniors Kelsi Johnson, Charley Troggio, Savanna Sieger and junior infielder Sydney Bennington. Sieger led the way for the pitching staff with eight wins, 88 innings and 53 strikeouts. Bennington started 44 games last season and batted a team high .351 with four home runs. Johnson said, “We have a really good team this year with a lot of positive energy and I think that is going to carry over into the win column.”
Head coach Herb Minch brought in 18 freshmen to create competition at every position and rebuild the program to what it once was. Out of the freshmen, one of the many bright spots is Katie Beeman, a center fielder from Ridgeley, W.Va. In high school, Beeman earned All-West Virginia Class AA outfielder at Frankfort HS and was a four-time All-Conference and All-Area selection. In 2016, she earned Defensive Player of the Year.
With the team’s sights set high, the teams to watch out for this season will be the University of Charleston, UVa-Wise and West Virginia Wesleyan. Wesleyan finished second in the nation last season after getting beat in the national championship.
The top eight teams make it to the conference tournament, and these seniors are going to be doing everything they can to make it for the first time in their college careers.
After this weekend’s games, their next games will be in early March in Salem, Va.
Photo Credit: Hilltoppersports.com