HBCU Softball Preview

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2016 Record and Result: 28-27 (15-3 SWAC), SWAC Softball Tournament Champions

Key Returners: Kendall Core, Charlene Castro, Laura Aguilar, Alexia Boggess

Key Losses: Maddie Phelps, Melissa Christmann, Aleesa Yanez, Jenna Mae Thorne

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – On the heels of the first Southwestern Athletic Conference softball championship in program history, Alabama State looks well equipped to embark on a defense of its title.

The Lady Hornets boast perhaps the most experienced team in the league, as all but four players on the roster are entering their senior seasons. Perhaps the most important one of the bunch is third baseman Kendall Core, the league’s preseason choice for Player of the Year.

The Benicia, Calif. native went on a tear during ASU’s run to the title, ending up ranked as one of the top power hitters in the conference hitting .348 with 57 hits (fourth in the conference) and slugging .610 (sixth). She also finished tied for second in the conference in RBI with 43, first in doubles (13) and total bases (100) and third in home runs with 10.

Laura Aguilar (team-high .385 BA and 70 hits, 33 runs, 10 2B), Alexia Boggess (.333, 4 HR, 11 2B, 31 RBI) and Charlene Castro (.390 BA, .617 SLG %, 8 HR, 43 RBI) also return for the Lady Hornets. With them in the fold, Alabama State – at least on paper – stands to field another dominant offensive lineup in 2017 after leading the conference in virtually every offensive category last season.

The key for Coach Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson’s unit will be finding stout pitching in lieu of 2016 Pitcher of the Year Maddie Phelps and 2016 second-team hurler Melissa Christmann, who have both graduated. Castro is the squad’s most seasoned thrower, but made just four starts and 26 appearances in her freshman year.

The Hornets open the season Feb.10 at the Sand Dollar Tournament in Mobile, Ala. starting with Houston Baptist.