Clarksville, TN – As Austin Peay State University’s softball team opens up its regular season this week, the Governors look to prove the preseason prognosticators wrong and make a run to return to post-season play.
The Govs were picked to finish 11th out of the 12 teams in the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll, after recording a 9-38 overall record in 2016 – including a 5-22 mark in conference play.
Defending regular-season and tournament champions, Jacksonville State was picked as the favorite to repeat as OVC champions in the same preseason poll, with the top eight teams in the regular-season standings making the post-season tournament field.
Austin Peay Softball picked to finish 11th in OVC preseason poll. (APSU Sports Information)
But the Govs enter 2017 returning 86 percent of its total offense and 67 percent of its innings pitched from last year, with 13 total lettermen back for APSU – including six seniors who come into the season with 462 career games played — including 334 of those being starts.
Among the returning seniors for Austin Peay is Clarksville’s own Rikki Arkansas – who prepped at Northeast High – who is a career .291 hitter, as well as just being outside of the school’s Top-10 in career stolen bases heading into her final campaign.
Also returning are true sophomore third baseman Danielle Liermann (Simi Valley, CA) and red-shirt sophomore outfielder Kacy Acree (Riverside, CA), who both earned All-OVC honors last season.
For Liermann, she was selected the conference’s Freshman of the Year – only the second time an Austin Peay player has won the award — while also being picked First-Team All-OVC and to the OVC All-Newcomer Team after batting .361 last year, with seven home runs and 36 RBIs
Acree joined Liermann on the All-Newcomers Team after batting .333, with six home runs, 21 RBI’s and a team-high 30 runs scored.
Other returning starters from last season are: senior outfielder Chandler Groves (.270, 3 HR, 15 RBI), junior second baseman Erica Inagaki (.108, 0 HR, 4 RBI), sophomore catcher Carly Mattson (.244, 4 HR, 13 RBI) and sophomore shortstop Kendall Vedder (.258, 0 HR, 11 RBI).
Juniors Savanna Oliver (outfield) and Alexis Hill (catcher) are also returning position player letterwinners.
In the circle, the Govs return four senior pitchers (Sidney Hooper, Christiana Gable, Allie Blackwood and Autumn Hanners), with Hanners being the team’s returning wins, strikeout and earned run leader from last year; while Hooper has the most returning career strikeouts and Blackwood the team’s returning saves leader.
This upcoming opening weekend will also be the first action for eight new players on the Govs roster –all freshmen – with six of those coming from within the Volunteer State.
Joining the softball team from Tennessee are: Kelsey Gray (catcher-outfielder/Dover), Brett Jackson (utility/Charlotte), Hannah Thompson (pitcher/Hendersonville), Drew Dudley (utility/Brentwood), Cassidy Hale (first base/Franklin) and Kelsey Gross (pitcher-first base/Collierville).
Two other utility players: Victoria Eccleston (Gilbert, AZ) and Emily Moore (Parker, CO) round out the incoming freshmen for this year’s squad.
The Govs open play February 11th at the Phyllis Rafter Memorial Tournament, hosted by Kennesaw State, with Austin Peay’s first home game at Cheryl Holt Field coming on February 21st versus Middle Tennessee.
About Chris Austin
Chris Austin is a graduate of Clarksville High School and Austin Peay State University.
Chris is a former Head Softball Coach for APSU, and assistant basketball coach for CHS.
Chris has worked at the Leaf-Chronicle, and WJZM News/Talk/Sports radio. Has also worked at the Sports Information Department at APSU, and has covered championship events for the Ohio Valley Conference and NCAA.
Chris is an avid sports fan and can be found at most Austin Peay State University sports events.
Web Site: http://www.clarksvillesportsnetwork.com
SectionsAnnouncements, Associations, Austin Peay State University, Colleges, Featured Story, NCAA, Northeast, Ohio Valley Conference, Schools, Softball, Sports
TopicsAlexis Hill, Allie Blackwood, APSU, Austin Peay, Austin Peay State University, Autumn Hanners, Brentwood TN, Brett Jackson, Carly Mattson, Cassidy Hale, Chandler Groves, Charlotte TN, Cheryl Holt Field, Christiana Gable, Clarksville TN, Collierville TN, Danielle Liermann, Dover TN, Drew Dudley, Emily Moore, Erica Inagaki, Feb. 11th, Feb. 21st, Franklin TN, Gilbert AZ, Governors, Govs, Hannah Thompson, Hendersonville TN, Jacksonville State., Kacy Acree, Kelsey Gray, Kelsey Gross, Kendall Vedder, Kennesaw State University, Middle Tennessee, northeast High School, Ohio Valley Conference, OVC, Parker CO, Phyllis Rafter Memorial Tournament, Rikki Arkansas, Riverside CA, Savanna Oliver, Sidney Hooper, Simi Valley CA, Victoria Eccleston, Volunteer State