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Softball Team Swinging Their Way Into the 2024 Season

Jessica Piland

The FGCU softball team is swinging into the 2024 season after finishing in fourth place in the ASUN Conference at the end of the 2023 season. The Eagles went 32-26 last season and 13-11 in conference play. This was a 14 win improvement for FGCU from the 2022 season. Head coach David Deiros expects good things to come this season.

“If you go ahead and follow the trajectory of that, we should be better, you know, with those same kids having more experience, spending that much more time together, getting ingrained in the system that we are trying to run, so I’m expecting us to do even better than a fourth place finish in the conference,” Deiros said.

The Eagles started off this season with 11 home games. All but one of those games were in tournaments like the FGCU Kickoff Classic and the FGCU Invitational. The one game that wasn’t happened to be a matchup against nationally ranked Washington to wrap up the homestand. In those games, the Eagles went 5-6 by going 1-5 in the FGCU Kickoff Classic and then 4-0 in the FGCU Invitational before dropping the Washington game 6-2. 

The Eagles left home for a road trip at FAU for another tournament and their first road games of the season. In that tournament, the Eagles went 4-1. FGCU is now 9-7 so far. The Eagles will then open the month of March in Tampa for another tournament hosted by USF.

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After the beginning home portion of the schedule in February, FGCU will be back home on March 6 and they will have big home games against schools like Florida State, Pittsburgh, USF and University of Florida before fully entering ASUN Conference play.

One player to watch for throughout this season is graduate student and right-handed pitcher Ally Hulme. Hulme will be stepping up to the plate for the last season of her collegiate career. She ended last season recording 63 strikeouts and threw a season high 129 pitches in a win against Liberty.

When talking about what she is looking forward to the most this season, Hulme spoke about the level of competition the Eagles will be facing this season and not backing down from it. 

“To play all these big time schools and show them how much of a fight we can give them,” Hulme said.

Junior catcher Sam Leski is another player to focus on this season for the Eagles. She played in 26 more games in her sophomore year as compared to her freshman year. While having more time out on the field with a better opportunity to shine, Leski finished the season with the team’s third highest on-base percentage of .375. In true competitive fashion, when talking about what she’s looking forward to most, Leski just mentioned winning.

That kind of focus and attitude will help FGCU throughout the long season. Based on the results of last season, the Eagles will need to keep a watchful eye on Central Arkansas specifically as well as other teams like North Alabama, Stetson and Austin Peay who all hovered just below FGCU in the conference standings. 

After both Liberty and Jacksonville State left the ASUN Conference following the end of last season, Central Arkansas is the only team still remaining in the conference that finished above FGCU in the standings. The Sugar Bears went 45-12 overall and a staggering 22-2 in conference play. They also proceeded to knock the Eagles out of the 2023 ASUN Softball Championship tournament 3-1.

 The 2024 ASUN Softball Championship tournament will take place May 7 through May 12 in Oxford, Alabama. By the end of the season, the Eagles hope to win their first ASUN title in softball since 2012.

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About the Contributor
Jessica Piland, Eagle News Photo Editor
Jessica Piland is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in global studies. She found her passion for photography during her senior year of high school after shooting some film for fun with her grandfather’s camera from the 80s. In addition to her work as photo editor for Eagle News, she works as a staff photographer for FGCU Athletics and is a photography intern with the University Marketing and Communications department. As she enters her third year as photo editor, she is excited for the fun stories, campus events, and breaking news that Eagle News will be covering!

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