Instant Peay Play: Governors softball opens an open era this week
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University’s softball team will open its 33rd season of play this coming weekend, February 9th-11th, as it travels to Statesboro, GA, to participate in the Georgia Southern Eagle Round Robin.
This season-opening weekend will also mark the first games played under new Govs head coach Rodney DeLong, who was named the programs ninth head coach in June 2017 after serving on the coaching staff at Georgia Tech.
2018 Austin Peay State University Softball Team. (APSU Sports Information)
Prior to his time at Georgia Tech, DeLong was head coach at Division II Cameron University in Lawton, OK, posting a record of 105-60 in three years, which also included two NCAA Regional Tournament appearances.
Joining Austin Peay in the round robin event will be Radford, East Tennessee and tournament host Georgia Southern, with the Govs opening play on Friday versus Radford at 2:00pm and Georgia Southern at 6:00pm.
On Saturday, APSU will face East Tennessee at 11:30am, with a rematch versus Georgia Southern at 6:00pm. The Govs will closeout its opening weekend on Sunday with an 8:00am contest versus Radford.
The Govs return 14 letterwinners – including seven starters – accounting for 79.8 percent of last year’s total offense, led by juniors Danielle Liermann (third base/.322 BA, 9 HR, 36 RBI), Kacy Acree (center field/.317 BA, 7 HR, 27 RBI), Carly Mattson (catcher/.292 BA, 10 HR, 21 RBI) and Kendall Vedder (shortstop/.273 BA, 6 HR, 22 RBI).
While the Govs return most of its offense form last year the same can’t be said of its pitching from 2017, with sophomore righthander Kelsey Gross (9-9 W-L, 6.10 ERA, 76 K’s) being the only returning pitcher with Division I experience in the circle – accounting for 34.9 percent of last year’s innings pitched.
But the Govs have added six new pitchers to bolster its staff, including two junior-college transfers (lefthander Morgan Rackel, righthander Kelly Mardones), three true righthanded freshmen (Bailey Shorter, Emily Harklerod, Lauren Meitzler) and one returning red-shirt freshman (Hannah Thompson).
Both Rackel and Mardones were NJCAA All-Americans in 2017, with Rackel earning 2nd-Team All-American honors at Weatherford College while Mardones was a 3rd-Team All-American selection for Tyler Junior College.
Rackel will also be the first left-handed pitcher on the Govs staff since the 2010 season, while the Govs will also be boasting an all-time most seven left-handed hitters (Kelsey Gray, Natalie Schilling, Katie Keen, Brooke Pfefferle, Acree, Shorter, Rackel) on its 25-person roster.
This weekend’s tournament is the first of five in-season tournaments and 57 total games on its regular-season schedule, with OVC play starting on March 24th, with a doubleheader at Morehead State, while the OVC Championship Tournament is scheduled to begin held on May 9th-12th in Oxford, AL.