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Amanda Gianelloni, number 5, up to bat against Northwesten State University April 23, 2016.

Softball to open 2017 season tomorrow in the Lion Classic

February 9, 2017

The Nicholls State University softball team will open their season by playing in the Lion Classic tomorrow.

The Colonels opened last season with the same tournament, where they won four out of their five games, losing only to the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Nicholls will open the tournament this year with a game against the United States Military Academy at West Point, who had an overall record of 39-20 last season, as compared to the Colonels’ 39-17 record.

“It’s going to be a very spirited competition, as its both teams’ first game and we’re very big supporters of the military,” Angel Santiago, the Nicholls head coach, said.

Santiago said that he expects there to be a large military presence at the game, both from Nicholls and West Point.

“They’re very tough and scrappy, so it’s going to be pretty eventful. Once a lot of the guys and ladies here heard that we were going to be playing the Army for our first game their ears perked up,” Santiago said.

Later that day, at 5 p.m., the Colonels will play Mississippi Valley State University, whom Nicholls beat 11-0 in last year’s classic.

The Colonels will follow those match ups on Sunday with an 11 a.m. game against Southern Illinois University, a team they beat 2-0 in last year’s classic, and a 3 p.m. game against the University of Nevada.

Nicholls will close out the tournament with a matchup against Coppin State University at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

“I think our day two challenges are going to be pretty tough, but Sunday is the day that you find out if your team is willing to finish,” Santiago said.

Santiago also said a large portion of the team’s goal at the classic was to solidify the roster moving into the rest of the season ahead.

“It’s really getting the pitchers to get used to pitching their seven innings,” Santiago said on the team’s agenda for the tournament. “We’re finding out who our starting lineup is.”

“We gained some freshmen who I really think could contribute,” Nicholls shortstop Brooke Morris said.

Nicholls led the Southland Conference in defense last season, a key trait that the team intends to continue at the start of this year.

“If the other team can’t score they can’t win,” Morris said. “This year it’s not about filling the holes, it’s about learning how to mesh together.”

Santiago said that a big portion of the team’s success in the upcoming tournament and beyond would be dependent on their attitude.

“I think we have a very serious team,” Santiago said. “I think we have a fine group of ladies that just absolutely want to impose themselves in the softball game. We’re just trying to give our best effort and our best game.”

Based on last year’s success at the Lion Classic, Santiago said he has high hopes for this season.

“I’d like to win the tournament,” Santiago said. “The first tournament pretty much establishes the character of your team.”

The Lion Classic is just the first of four regular season tournaments for the Colonels this year.

“Every single time they go through these tournaments, it’s an exercise on how to play tournament play, so that they’re ready for the postseason opportunity,” Santiago said.

The Colonels will begin their season at 3 p.m. at North Oak Park tomorrow in Hammond, La.

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