Inaugural Colonel Fall Classic is an opportunity for softball to shine

Nicholls State University’s softball program is looking forward to hosting the first ever Colonel Fall Classic this Saturday at the Colonel Softball Complex as an opportunity to evaluate this year’s team.

The Colonels will play three games during the offseason tournament, starting with Pearl River Community College at 10 a.m. Then they will play a doubleheader against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

“The event serves two purposes for us,” Angel Santiago, head coach, said. “One is that it gives us a different competition, so we are not just playing against each other all the time and the second is that it gives us opportunity to recruit.”

The coaches will take this chance to see how the team’s chemistry develops during the Colonels Fall Classic and how the players understand their individual roles on the team. Admission to all the three games is free of charge.

“Basically what we are doing in these games is just trying to find out what line up we are going to use in the spring,” Santiago said. “We are going to do a lot of scenario plays where we can see how people perform under pressure and in key situations.”

The Colonels Fall Classic will be the climax for this offseason. It will be the first chance this team will have to experience playing together in their own ballpark.

“It is nice to actually have a tournament at Nicholls because we never get to play here,” shortstop and second basemen Brooke Morris said. “It is nice not to have to go on a bus to play elsewhere.”

The home game will also allow the players the convenience of having the support of their family and friends.

“It is always a really good feeling when you are at home and have people that you know being able to watch you play,” first and third baseman Alexis Huss said.

Nicholls softball team has taken the offseason practices time to focus on correcting the mistakes and taking care off addressing any other aspect of the game that needs improvement.

“We’ve got all the components to be a really good team and the fall is the time for making sure that we put those pieces together,” Huss said.

The softball team is counting with the advantage of a solid roster for a successful season in 2016. 16 returners and nine new comers compose the roster. Nicholls guaranteed the second position in batting average and was among the first five teams in runs of the Southland Conference last season.

“We have got a good core of kids. A while ago we used to be a pretty young team and now we have got more experienced players,” Santiago said. “From last year, we only lost one kid, so we are going to have a full roster of options plus the help that we needed to our campaign last year.”

The team started the conditioning phase with the players at the beginning of the fall semester and the incoming freshman and transfers joined the returning players for intersquad games.

“The fall is for integrating all the new people with the returners from last year,” Pitcher Hannah Haydel said. “The team is already meshing really well. We have a lot of good attitude in this team and I think it is transferring over to the field.”

A full, healthy roster and a repeat performance from key starters will be essential for the team to maintain its 2015 season’s performance and consequently improve it in 2016, according to Santiago. Last seasons overall records for the Colonels were 26-22, 14-8 non-conference and 12-14 conference games, being 10-6 at home, 8-12 away and 8-4 neutral.

“The main goal of 2016 is going to be to simply put ourselves in a situation where we can repeat success again, diminish the losses, increases the wins and do the best we can,” Santiago said.