The Lindenwood University-Belleville softball team is preparing to begin the 2019 season with high hopes. Despite finishing the 2018 campaign with a 24-22 (.522) record, the Lady Lynx missed out on the American Midwest Conference Tournament.
Head Coach Charlie Kennedy is entering his eighth season with the Lady Lynx and is optimistic about the balance of freshman and veteran upperclassmen to propel the team throughout the season.
“There are seven seniors on the team this year that played all four years for me,” Kennedy said. “To me, that’s such a valuable thing, because they understand the game of softball. They’ve been invested in the program through camps, clinics, and practices, and that’s what’s important for us going into the season – we’ve got great leadership.”
The seven seniors that have played their entire collegiate career with the Lady Lynx are utility player Payton Curtis, pitcher Nicole Stull, infielder Madison Mountain, catcher Paige Kuefler, infielder Amanda Velasquez, outfielder Erin Skinner, and first baseman Melissa Martineck. In addition, the other four seniors--pitcher Cortnye Pool, first baseman Peyton Rose, infielder Madison Rapien, and shortstop Anastasia Villanueva--transferred to Lindenwood Belleville.
“We brag about being a family,” Kennedy said. “You can tell how committed the players are to each other, how much they’ve got each other’s backs. It’s an all-for-one philosophy, and they’re very excited for this season.”
In addition to the seniors, the Lady Lynx will have 16 freshman on the team this year.
According to Coach Kennedy, missing out on the conference tournament last year left unfinished business with the 2019 team.
“I think what is going to be such a benefit for us this year is that we’ve got a bad taste in our mouth from last year,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got some things at stake, we will be facing several nationally ranked opponents in the first several games of the season, and I think that being an unknown commodity this year is going to be a big motivator for us.”
Inside the AMC, the Lady Lynx will face the No. 12 Freed-Hardeman University Lions on the road on April 20 and the No. 4 Columbia College Cougars at home on March 30, both nationally ranked opponents.
Outside of the conference, the Lady Lynx will travel to Springfield, Mo., for the 2019 Evangel Tournament where they will face No. 23 Midland University, followed by their biggest challenge of the season, No. 1 Oklahoma City University. Both games will be played Saturday, Feb. 23, with Oklahoma City at 10 a.m. followed by Midland at noon.
After that, they face No. 9 Hope International University on March 11 and No. 14 Vanguard University on March 12.
“We expect to be led by our upperclassmen, and we also expect that the underclassmen contribute in many different ways,” Kennedy said. “They’ve got to earn their keep to get out there and show what they’re capable of doing in situational at-bats and with quality pitch selection.”
The Lady Lynx began the season on the road at Batesville, Ark., with the Northwestern College Red Raiders of Iowa and the Peru State College Nebraska Bobcats in the Lyon College Spring Invitational on Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16., where they took Peru State in a 15-11 victory, lost to Northwestern Iowa 5-3, and won again against Peru State 2-1.