This weekend kicks off Southern Conference
play for the Georgia Southern University softball team as it travels to the
University of North Carolina at Greensboro to begin conference domination.
Before the season began, the coaches of the SoCon voted GSU as the favorite to win the conference in 2014. After winning two straight conference championships and retaining three of their best players from last year, it is no surprise that the Eagles were out in front early in the season.
The core of the Eagles’ success through the rest of the season will come from senior pitcher Sarah Purvis, who is etching her name in as a legend at GSU. She came into the season voted as first team All-SoCon as well as Preseason Pitcher of the Year for the second year in a row, and she has lived up to the hype.
At this point in the season Purvis has a record of 8-3, 92 strikeouts and a 0.78 ERA. These stats pale in comparison to her no-hitter she pitched against Troy University and her third career-perfect game against Kennesaw State University last week. With 22 games left in the regular season, there is plenty of time to keep building up her already impressive numbers.
Two seniors and their impact at the plate will be the driving force in discouraging the opposition. Senior shortstop Kourtny Thomas has compiled a .397 batting average and leads the team with eight home runs and 23 RBIs.
Senior infielder Shelby Morrill has made an early impact in her last season as an Eagle. She is second on the team in nearly every batting category, with a .311 average, three home runs and 13 RBIs. The batting from Thomas and Morrill will dominate the SoCon pitchers and be vital in putting points on the board.
Due to the six losses this season, GSU is ranked third in the conference in its pre-play polls. GSU trails behind Samford University and Elon University, who each have one fewer loss than the Eagles. Looking at the strength of the schedule, it can easily show who deserves to be at the top spot in the conference.
This season GSU set up its schedule to toughen the Eagles up early. These included two games against No. 2 University of Tennessee, which the Eagles managed to keep close in both matches, only being outscored 0-3 after both games. Additionally, they faced off against No. 29 University of Wisconsin and came away with a 4-0 win. Later in the year they have also scheduled No. 19 University of Georgia and No. 11 University of Alabama to keep them playing at a high level of competition through the dull midseason.
UNCG will be the first step on the road to the third SoCon title, beginning at 3 p.m. Winning the conference will put the Eagles in an excellent position to advance to the Super Regionals and possibly Oklahoma City.