Written by Juston Lewis, Staff Writer
The Blazer Softball team is not getting caught up in preseason honors or rankings ahead of the 2017 season.
The Blazers were picked to finish third in the Gulf South Conference in a preseason coaches poll this season, and they had three players selected to the preseason All-GSC team. The team also opened the season at 13 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Chelsea Canara is a senior who batted a career high .360 last season. She also brought in 37 RBI’s and posted a career high 59 hits.
“I just felt really thankful that people thought that I could get that [honor] but at the end of the day it’s all about the team,” Canara said on her All-GSC selection. “It’s a great honor to have but I don’t really think about that kind of stuff.”
Canara noted that the team’s goal was to win the very last game of the season (the National Championship), and with it being her last year, she wanted to do her very best for her teammates and cherish every moment.
One of those teammates, Brandy Morgan, was also voted to the Preseason All-GSC team as well. Morgan is a junior who had career highs in hits and batting average with 52 and .319. She scored 38 runs and was second on the team with 45 RBI’s. She had 12 home runs which was eighth in the GSC.
“I had no idea until a couple of my friends told me congratulations and sent me the article,” Morgan said. “It was really nice but I was a little shocked.”
Morgan considers herself a leader on the team, and that she wants to be more of an example than a vocal leader.
“I used to be a selfish player in high school and just cared about myself and my stats,” Morgan said. “In college, this [team] is more of a family feel. I just want to play my best game and benefit my team.”
The team took the field on Tuesday in a pre-season scrimmage against Georgia Military College. They trailed for a stint during the game but used a five run inning to take the lead in the 6th. They won the scrimmage 9-5 and valued the experience gained from it.
“It was probably one of the most important days in the pre-season,” Canara said. “In practice we see our own teammates playing and pitching but it helps to see other people and gain that experience.”
Head coach Thomas Macera is the embodiment of experience when it comes to coaching. In his ten years at VSU, he’s compiled a 485-122 record, making him the all-time winningest coach in VSU softball’s history. The Blazers went to six straight GSC Conference championships, and they won the National Championship in 2012 under his tutelage.
“I don’t get caught up in rankings much,” Macera said. “Sometimes you think you’re better, sometimes you think you are worse. Championships aren’t won in February. They’re won in May.”
The Blazers lost three All-South Region players, but Macera doesn’t think that his team will struggle because of it. He also doesn’t think his team is weak in any one area of the game saying, “I think we’re pretty good all around. I think we have good pitching; I think we have good hitting; I think we have good defense; and we have depth.”
Macera has the same expectations for this season that he does every season, win the National Championship.
“Every year the goal is to compete nationally; I don’t expect to do anything less.” Macera said.
The 2012 National Championship banner looms across the field from the Blazers dugout at Steel’s Diamond Field. It’s something the players see every time they take the field ; a consistent reminder of what the expectations are.
The pursuit of the National Title begins on Feb. 4, as VSU takes on North Georgia in the Gulf Shores Invitational in Gulf Shores, Alabama.