FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2012
Dolphins out to prove last season was no fluke
The reigning Atlantic Sun champion Jacksonville University softball team officially started its 2012 campaign this week when practice kicked off Monday. Coming off the most successful season in program history in which the Dolphins went 44-16 en route to the regular season and conference tournament titles and the first ever postseason berth, the Dolphins are eager to get back to work and take last year’s successes to an all new level.
There might not be anyone more excited to get back out on the diamond than reigning Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year, Sarah Sigrest.
“I think everyone is really excited, I know I’m excited. We’re ready to get back to where we were last year and see the progress of everything. After a year like last year I want to do better than I did, I’m just ready to go.”
Running those practices is a familiar face as Ali Higgs is in her first season as head coach after serving as an assistant for the previous five years. Higgs is excited to get the season started and is pleased the way the team has approached the early practices.
“At this point in practice we just want them to work hard, get quality reps and have intense practice and they know that. I’ve loved their energy and their intensity. They have an intensity that I have never seen before and I love it. They have really come out with the right attitude, ready to work hard and ready to go.”
Last year’s Dolphin team entered the season with not a lot of pressure or expectations. This season it is the exact opposite with the team returning most of last year’s key contributors.
“There’s definitely more pressure because last year we came in and didn’t have that pressure, we didn’t have to win. We proved last year that we were the best team and this year we want to do the same thing and continue it. Definitely more pressure, but in a good way,” said the senior Sigrest.
The head coach agreed that the expectations and pressure to match last year’s accomplishments are present, but she believes the team is ready for the challenge. “After having a season like last year, I think there is pressure to finish either the same as last year or better. My expectation, and the team’s expectation, is to finish better because we always want to do better than the year before. Forty-four wins is a lot for a Division I softball team.“
Higgs has stressed to her team that she wants them to make the most of their practice time and to keep their championship mindset.
“My kids know it’s all about quality reps right now, not necessarily being perfect on defense or perfect in the cages hitting, just really coming out with the right attitude and being ready to work hard and get ready to go. We’re not asking them to be perfect the first or second week because we don’t need to be perfect. Last year we did so well because we peaked at the right time. We were playing our best games in May. We’re not working at physical mistakes right now, we’re trying to get in quality reps with a lot of energy.”
One theme has been constant when talking to anyone involved with JU softball in regards to the start of practice and 2012 season. These girls are “ready to go!”