Softball Looking to Build on 2023 Season
Coming off of a regional appearance in 2023, the Lady Choctaws are looking to go even further in 2024.
Mississippi College softball is coming off of a historic 2023 season.
Their 43 wins broke school records, as did their 24 wins in Gulf South Conference play. Head coach Brooke O’Hare was named the 2023 GSC Coach of the Year, and McCall Lee was named Player of the Year after her record-breaking junior season. The Lady Choctaws made it all the way to the NCAA South Regional before their season came to a close. The team has received no shortage of accolades coming into the season, either. They are ranked #2 in the GSC Preseason Coaches Poll, and four different Choctaws were named to the Preseason All-GSC Team: Camryn Bailey, Kamryn Eaton, McCall Lee, and Shelby Samples.
However, accolades have not been at the front of the team’s mind according to O’Hare. “We don’t talk about it,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, preseason means nothing. Last year’s awards mean nothing. Everything that you do each and every day is the only thing that matters.”
Following seasons of great success, many coaches focus on ensuring their teams stay hungry and avoid complacency. O’Hare is no different. The Lady Choctaws' preseason has been as intense as ever as the team figures out what their identity will be in 2024.
“I think that, this preseason, we did a lot better than we give ourselves credit for,” said senior McCall Lee. “We are very hard on ourselves, but I think that once we play other teams and see how we are as a team, we will experience how good we are as a team.”
The tests will come early and often this season. The Lady Choctaws open the non-conference portion of their schedule Feb. 2-4 in Youngsville, Louisiana with five games in three days, including their season opener against #22 Oklahoma Baptist. The following week, they will play six games from Feb. 9-11 in Albertville, Alabama. According to O’Hare, these early road trips will be important in determining what the team will look like for the rest of the season.
“You get on the road and really start to figure out how the team is going to grow together,” O’Hare said. “Thankfully, there are not going to be conference games, but the teams we are facing are still very challenging … and so it's going to be competitive.”
Following their road tests, Mississippi College will face off against the team that ended their 2023 season and is ranked first in the GSC Preseason Poll, #12 Alabama Huntsville. The home game will open their conference schedule. The series will take place Feb. 17-18, and it is expected to be an exciting and hotly contested matchup. McCall Lee believes that it will serve as motivation for the Lady Choctaws, and O’Hare agrees.
“I will tell you, when we get to that weekend, it's going to be very fun preparing for them, and there are going to be a lot of emotions and rivalry with that,” O’Hare said.
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