In the case of the Delta State University softball team, the first year players have gotten their chance early on and have ran with it.
The freshmen trio of first baseman Kaitlin Moore and outfielders Mariah Alvarez and Kassidy Tally have set the tone for the Lady Statesmen during the season. The trio have combined for 50 of the team’s 136 runs, driven in 39 of the team’s 124 RBIs and stroked 101 of the team’s 246 hits this season.
“All three of those freshman are only going to get better with time,” Delta State head coach Casey Charles said.
Moore has shined the most of the three as she leads the team in batting average (.430), hits (43), runs (19), RBIs (22), on-base percentage (.509) and slugging percentage (.630). Moore is also tied for first in the Gulf South Conference in doubles, ranked second in batting average and on-base percentage and ranked seventh in slugging percentage and total hits.
Before the season began, the former DeSoto Central High School standout and Southaven native never dreamed she would do as well as she’s done.
“I came in here kind of nervous,” Moore said. “I was hoping I could at least have kind of a decent year. It’s kind of been a shock that I’ve done as well as I have. I’m just blessed.”
Alvarez has been on a hot streak as of late. The Saginaw, Texas native and former Saginaw High School standout recently earned GSC Player of the Week by going a combined 10-for-17 with a home run and seven RBIs in doubleheaders against Shorter and West Georgia. Alvarez is second on the team in batting average (.392), and 10th in the GSC. She also has .a 554 slugging percentage with three home runs, 12 RBIs, 15 runs scored and 29 hits.
Alvarez said the work the team has done on hitting has really helped her develop as a hitter.
“We hit pretty much everyday,” Alvarez said. “We work on hitting inside pitch, outside pitch, down the middle, that’s what coach mainly has us doing. It’s help me a lot working on my strength and weakness. My weakness has been the outside pitch, but pretty much both are not my weakness any more. I give props to (assistant) coach (Dave) Martinez for helping me out. He’s worked with me on and off the field, and it’s helped me a lot.”
Alvarez didn’t anticipate she would have the success she’s had this year.
“I was very nervous at first,” Alvarez said about playing her first year. “At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think it would happen like that. I’m surprised it did, and I’m happy. Someone was watching over me, and I’ve loved it. It’s an awesome opportunity.”
Tally, a former Raleigh High School standout from Raleigh has shown some blazing speed this year as she leads the GSC in stolen bases (21) and stolen base attempts (25). She has also scored 16 runs and has tagged 29 total hits with five RBIs.
Tally has been pleased with the amount of playing time she has seen in her first year.
“When I came for my meeting back in the fall, they told me if I didn’t start, I would be running bases,” Tally said. “I figured my first year, I would be doing my best running bases. It has surprised me to see how much I’ve actually played.”
Before this year, neither one of these three players knew each other.
Over the course of the season, Moore said they’ve started to develop a close bond.
“When we came in, we didn’t know each other at all,” Moore said. “We’ve just kind of stuck together knowing we were freshmen. Now, we’re pretty close friends so it’s worked out.”
With one month left in the year before the GSC Tournament, all three players feel that the team whole is ready to play its best softball of the year. The Lady Statesmen (13-19, 7-11 GSC) will be back in action on Saturday when they host the University of North Alabama for a GSC doubleheader with the first game set for 2 p.m. at University Field.