‘The expectation for our program is always high:’ Softball begins practice for regular season


Mia Hennen

After scoring a home run for the Shockers, junior Addison Barnard runs to home plate to meet the WSU softball team during the game against KU.

In the past two seasons, the softball team has made it to the NCAA Tournament; however, they’ve never made it past the NCAA Regional round. This season, the team wants to get to the NCAA Super Regionals and vye for a spot in the Women’s College World Series.
In order to make it there, head coach Kristi Bredbenner said the softball program always tries to play the toughest schedule possible. This upcoming season is no different. The Shockers will play against 12 NCAA Tournament teams from last season and host 27 games at Wilkins Stadium.

“I think now the expectation for our program is always high,” Bredbenner said. “You understand what it takes now to make it to the postseason.”

The Shockers return several key players including All-Americans, shortstop Sydney McKinney and outfielder Addison Barnard. However, the Shockers have several new members to their pitching staff this season. One of those new faces is right handed pitcher Lauren Howell who is a transfer from Arkansas. 

“We’ve got the least amount of experience that we’ve had for a long time in that circle, but we’ve got the offense to back them up, and I hope that they use that as a confidence booster for them to, you know, go out and not put as much pressure on themselves,” Bredbenner said. 

The Shockers will start off their season in the Bobcat Classic in San Marcos, Texas. The first game of the tournament is on Feb. 10 against Villanova. The Wildcats made it to an NCAA Regional last season and won the Big East Championship. 

“Getting into these first few tournaments … It’s going to be a really good feeling,” Barnard said. “Just get kind of the feel of the team you know and a lot of us are new so, for the freshmen, it’s going to be a little bit of a shock.”

Lauren Lucas started in the outfield last season and is one of the Shockers key returners in the batting lineup. She had one of the highest batting averages last season (.387) on the team and was on base .461 percent of the time. 

Lucas said the team has a lot of talent this season, especially offensively. 

“We are never somebody to mess with or look past and that’s really exciting,” Lucas said.  Of all my years I’ve been here, we are in the conversation, and we are absolutely a force to be reckoned with.”

The Shockers began official practice for the season on Jan. 9 in addition to interviews with the local media.

“(The season) started today, and it’s not going to end until our last game,” McKinney said.

Mia Hennen contributed to reporting