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‘Finish what we started’: Blazers have sights set on national title after strong 2022 season

The VSU softball team is ready to return to Steel’s Diamond for hopefully yet another successful season.

But even though it’s a new season for the Blazers, Head Softball Coach Thomas Macera said the mission remains the same.

“We have the same goal every year,” said Coach Macera. “We’re here to compete nationally, get to the end and compete for a championship. That’s the only goal we ever have.”

After falling just one game short of the NCAA Division II College World Series last season, the Blazers enter 2023 seeking another shot at playing for a national championship.

As a team, the Blazers recorded 399 hits on their way to a 38-win campaign last season that saw them make it to the South Super Regional.

But one of the biggest improvements the Blazers worked on in the offseason is what led to the end of their previous season: being able to finish games.

“We got to the Super Regional last year, and we were one game up and dropped our last two, so being able to finish what we started is our biggest thing to improve on,” said Coach Macera.

After a strong showing in 2022, many players believe that this is another opportunity to make a run for another national title, and according to one player, the Blazers have the team to do it.

“These girls are capable of so much,” said pitcher Taylor Barrett. “We all know our strengths and know how to capitalize on our opportunities, and we look forward to demonstrating that this season.”

Barrett is one of the several newcomers to the team who are looking to help contribute to the overall goal of winning championships, not just individual accolades.

“We all know our jobs, and we are here for a bigger purpose than just us,” said Barrett.

With some roster turnover from the previous season, reigning All-American pitcher Samantha Richards shared her thoughts on how the Blazers improved during the offseason.

“We’ve all taken strides to become better players,” said Richards. “Personally, I’ve worked with Coach Macera on throwing tighter pitches, something I struggled with last season.”

While achieving a record of 21-5 in conference this previous year, the Blazers have also made an emphasis to improve on their .292 hitting percentage from last season.

Though the team shares the same goals, senior second baseman Taylor Macera has one particular goal in mind: keeping the culture alive.

“We have as many young players as we do returning players, and we are attempting to keep that winning culture here at VSU intact,” she said.

There is no hiding that there is a lot of hard work and dedication being put in, and several players expect big results this year.

“Based on our chemistry, I feel like we can go far,” said Richards. “We have the bats, we’ve got the pitching, we’ve got the fielders, we just need some things to go our way.”

Combining the new teammates with the core of the roster, the Blazers look to make a run at the school’s fourth national championship appearance in 13 seasons.

“We’ve been working really hard, putting in the extra work, because we want to put our best foot forward and come out swinging like we always do,” said Taylor Macera.

The Blazers open their season with a five-game bout in Florida. The Blazers will face Palm Beach Atlantic and Nova Southeastern in doubleheaders on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, respectively, before wrapping up the weekend against Barry University.

The Blazers’ home opener takes place on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. as they take on conference foe Mississippi College in a doubleheader.

Written by Jack Calhoun, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of John Harris, Spectator Photographer.

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