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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State softball looks to build on teamwork for 2022 season


Texas State senior infielder Sara Vanderford (26) listens to questions from sports reporters about the upcoming season during the softball media day preview, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2022, at Bobcat Ballpark.

Texas State softball kicked off its 2022 season on Feb. 11 with a 10-2 victory against New Mexico State. With the new season off to a promising start, the Bobcats gear up to continue their successes from last year where they finished 39-14 overall, 17-6 Sun Belt Conference. 
Junior infielder Sara Vanderford and sophomore right-handed pitcher Jessica Mullins, look to carry themselves as team leaders after a monumental last season. Both Vanderford and Mullins were selected for the 15-member 2022 Sun Belt Conference Preseason All-Conference Team.
Vanderford has been named the Sun Belt Player of the week three times, earned a spot on the 2021 Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team and was named the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year. After the loss of six senior players last season, Vanderford is committed to enhancing her skills this year.
“[I want to work] on a lot of things I did not do well on last year, instead of working on the things I did do good in, and just not doing too much,” Vanderford said. “I feel like my leadership it is still developing after losing our core class. During the fall it was a lot of learning, and asking ‘Who am I going to take with me? Who is going to be able to help me out?'”
Also looking to continue her impact from last season is sophomore outfielder Piper Randolph, who appeared in 45 games and started in 36 of them her freshman year. Randolph is one of two Bobcats credited with double-digit stolen bases (16) last season, making her 16 stolen bases the second-most swipes by a Texas State softball student-athlete in 2021.
“We are definitely going for the rings this year baby, sticking to our plans, and being there for each other on and off the field,” Randolph said. “Visualizing yourself on that base is a plan, visualizing your goals as a team like making it to regionals again and making it past regionals this year. We just have that goal and plan, and we are sticking to it.”
The team’s successes would not be possible without the guidance of Head Coach Ricci Woodward who has been involved in the softball program for 21 years. Throughout her career at Texas State, Woodward led the team to a 724-443-1 record, 12 conference championships and nine Division I Softball NCAA Regional appearances. She’s also received five Coach of the Year awards.
This year, Woodward said it’s been difficult preparing the team as it’s a completely different group from last season. Additionally, finding out who is going to be playing where and how to gel the team together has been challenging. However, the team continues to have high aspirations for this season.
“In the past, we were limited on consistency and those were set early, but this season it has been a battle since day one,” Woodard said. “We want the College World Series, that has been the dream for 22 years here for me. I think last year we had a great chance to do that but just fell short in the end … I don’t think this team has any reason to not make it their goal also.”
Texas State softball looks to play its first home game of the season against the University of Oregon. The first pitch of the game will be at 4 p.m. on Feb. 17 at Bobcat Softball Stadium.
Kyle Owens contributed to this story. 

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  • Texas State sophomore outfielder Piper Randolph (11) answers questions about the upcoming season during the softball media day preview, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2022, at Bobcat Ballpark.

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