The Norfolk State Spartans softball team has had a successful start to their season as they have defeated Youngstown State in their season opener. The Lady Spartans also held victories over University of Massachusetts Lowell, Bucknell University, Wagner College, and Georgetown University during the NSU-Hampton Classic.
They are also coming off an amazing season. The Spartans finished the season 34-23 and (16-5) in the MEAC. The Spartans lost to the Howard Bisons in heartbreaking fashion 8-7 with a walk-off single into center field to conclude their 2022 season.
Looking onto the 2023 season, the Spartans have a familiar face as their new head coach. Former assistant head coach Carrie Hoeft steps in as the Spartan’s new head coach when James Inzana retired.
“It doesn’t make a difference it being my first season as head coach, our goal here is to win a conference championship.” Coach Hoeft said.
“That’s how we look at it this season as well, it’s just going to be one inning at a time one game at a time, we’re going to focus on the small things rather than focus on that much larger goal,” Hoeft said.
The Spartans plan to continue their success this season with help from their returning players. “We have a lot of returning players,” Hoeft said. “We’re counting on them to continue their individual success which led to our team success. Between seniors, super seniors, and red-shirt seniors we have 10 this year so we didn’t take a big hit from last season,” Hoeft said.
With the Spartans being vet heavy and earning seven MEAC Preseason Honors. After a strong senior season in which she was named to the All-MEAC First Team for the second consecutive year, Gabby Vaughan garnered preseason recognition. She had 36 RBIs and six home runs at the end of the season, finishing with a .296 batting average and a .526 slugging percentage.
As a freshman, Kenna Higa dominated the conference, earning a spot on the All- MEAC First Team and being named Co-Rookie of the Year. She hit .328 with a .619 slugging percentage, added 44 RBIs, and hit nine home runs.
Other players that received honors were Alexis Robinson First team all MEAC, Imani Moore First team all MEAC, Alison Guckin First team all MEAC, and Yrral Davis First team all MEAC. The Spartan’s seven Preseason All- MEAC selections were the most of any team in conference, with Howard following closely behind at six.
The Spartans have a few more tournaments before the start of MEAC games. Coach Hoeft says, “We look at all those tournaments as preparation for MEAC play. When we go to these tournaments, we work with all of our pitching staff to see who will start, who will relieve, and who will close,” Hoeft said. “A lot of people get playing time in those tournaments to see what our starting lineup will look like for the MEAC. Sometimes these tournaments can be exhausting but it’s a good game experience,” Hoeft said.
The Lady Spartans take on the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University this Friday, kicking off the Spartan/Pirate Classic.