Although the Wolverine softball team begins their 2011 season this Saturday on the road with a few lingering unknowns, they have high expectations.
After loosing seven starters last se son, the lady Wolverines return this season with four seniors, three juniors and three sophomores, along with three junior transfers and four freshmen.
“The reality is we have new starters; we are real shallow and have virtually no depth this year,” said Coach Todd Fairbourne. “My approach to things is if the kids are doing their job and I’m doing mine, I expect us to come out there and play and fight.”
Among those returning is pitcher Kyli Flanary. “I have a lot of faith and confidence in Kyli. She came so far last year as a JC transfer, and it’s not by chance that she developed and came on: the kid works hard,” said Fairbourne. “She’s a great person. She wants to go out there and be her best, and she puts in the effort.”
Judging by their fall exhibition games, incoming freshman Amanda Robinson is one to come watch this season.
“This fall [she] really showed that she’s going to be someone to really be reckoned with,” said Fairbourne. “She was this fall our best offensive player. That kid steps in the box, and she doesn’t care who she’s facing. She thinks she’s it and is not intimidated by anyone.”
Just last week, the lady Wolverines were picked to finish third in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Mountain Division. This, Fairbourne says, defines the season’s expectations.
“Relative to where we were picked in the inaugural season, and considering that we’ve lost three fourths of the starting lineup, I’m pretty happy that people still see us that high,” said Fairbourne. “Our expectations are to challenge for that division every year. From a coaching perspective, my biggest thing is you know we took second last year; I want to make sure we are right there again. I don’t want that to be some one-year wonder. I want that to be the expectation.”
Fairbourne is even willing to take that expectation to the next level and challenge for higher than third.
“If these kids are what they think they are, and what I think they can do, then there is no reason that we shouldn’t be challenging for first place in the division. I will never have anything less than that,” said Fairbourne. “I think this is a conference that we are very competitive in.”
They will not only begin on the road, but will remain on the road until late March when they begin home play, pending the state of MStar field. The field is currently being worked on, and Fairbourne is hoping the grass, which wasn’t put in until November, will be ready to play on.
If all works out, home play will begin on March 29, and the Wolverines will host the UVU Invitational on April 1-2.
“I’m hoping they are on my field, but I’m not going to hold my breath. It’s just the way things are,” said Fairbourne.