Coming off a season where they saw five girls named All-Summit League and claimed the third seed at the conference tournament, the University of South Dakota women’s softball team is looking for big things as they begin their 2013-14 campaign.
The Coyotes finished last year’s spring season 29-20, but weren’t able to claim much postseason success. The team looks to replace their last years senior pitcher Erica Denney — a bump in the road that must be conquered to make a run at a conference title.
Fifth-year coach Amy Klyse, , has high expectations for the team, even after just weeks of practices and tryouts.
“What we’re expecting from this team is great leadership,” Klyse said. “It has been awesome to watch that leadership emerge. I’m happy with what we are expecting coming into the year.”
The Coyotes are a young team, but a young team that gained plenty of valuable experience last season.
Leading the way for the Coyotes will be sophomore first baseman Yvon Minogue. She was the team leader last year in batting average at .357, good enough for ninth in the conference. Still, Minogue is looking for more this year.
“I think I have always played at a high caliber of softball. I kind of expect that out of myself. So, this year I just want to step it up a notch and see how much better I can get from last year,” Minogue said. “Hitting is obviously my game. I really want to hit .400 this year.”
The players all seem to be buying into Klyse’s high expectations, but there’s still that missing piece of filling the spot left by Denney. Much of the responsibility for filling Denney’s spot will fall on the shoulders of sophomore Madison Frain.
“It’s Frain’s turn. She’s going to do big things this year for sure,” Minogue said. “I think last year was the year where she was getting settled in, and I know this year will tell way more than last year that she’s more confident in herself.”
Klyse also believe that Frain is ready to step up for a big season and thinks the sophomore pitcher will get a lot of help behind the plate as well.
“We have Allie (Daly) working behind the plate with young pitchers, and she’s a junior who has been around and knows what she expects of herself and the pitchers,” Klyse said. “Having her lead the team behind the plate with the first-year pitchers is definitely a strength of ours.”
Even though the season is yet to begin, players are already thinking about the postseason.
“Moving forward into our regular season in the spring, qualifying for conference and being there meant a lot,” Klyse said. “No one on that team had experience that through the (Division I) transition. So, it was our first big stage. Now we’ve been on it, and now we have expectations to go there and win.”
The team and Klyse are gearing up for big things, and the players said they are ready for one of their strongest years yet.
“Coach Amy (Klyse) is a great coach. She pushes us to our limit. She just expects it out of us. She knows what we’re capable of,” Minogue said. “I’ve seen a lot of people learning so far. We’re improving everything.”
The Coyotes will kickoff their season Sunday at their home fields with a doubleheader against Morningside College. Games start at noon and 2 p.m.