ANDERSON, S.C.-The 2018 edition of Anderson University softball begins play on Friday when it host nonconference opponent Southern Wesleyan at the AU Softball Complex.
Thirteenth-year head coach Tommy Hewitt's squad features 11 returning letterwinners, including five seniors and eight newcomers.
Hewitt will look to fill the void left by two departed pitchers, Augie Pena and Lauren Rudesheim, who combined for 28 wins in the circle a season ago. The Trojans return veteran pitcher Randee Bettis and have added freshmen Kayla Pepper and Harlie Duncan to the staff.
"Bettis has been here for three years and has continued to get stronger and stronger", said head coach Tommy Hewitt. "She pitched extremely well in the latter half of the season last year while carrying that confidence into the fall. Kayla and Harlie both pitched well in the fall and have handled the transition from high school to college extremely well."
Anderson returns both a speedy and a solid hitting team. The Trojans stole a program history 67 bases last season with sophomore Meghan Majeski and junior Kasey Grant combining for 44 stolen bases. Majeski tied Anderson's all-time season record with 26 swipes on 28 attempts.
Trojan slugger Cailah Niles returns for her senior season already finding her name in almost every offensive Anderson all-time category. Niles batted a team-high .395 while hitting 14 home runs last season. The native of Pheniz City, currently sits tied for first in career total home runs (47) in both the Anderson all-time career and the SAC all-time career record books.
"We are swinging the bat well and the team is working hard day in and day out", noted Hewitt. "I believe we may be even faster on the bases than we were last year".
Another addition for the Black and Gold is former Trojan stand-out Abby Child. Child was added to Coach Hewitt's staff as an assistant coach in August 2017.
Child graduated from Anderson in 2014 with a degree in Physical Education. The native of LaGrange, Ga. garnered many awards during her career at AU. Child's name can be found peppered throughout the Anderson all-time record books, as well as in the South Atlantic Conference record books.
"We are very fortunate to have Abby back as an assistant coach", said Hewitt. "Abby not only brings her softball knowledge and experience to our program, but she returns to the legacy she worked so hard to help create."
Hewitt's expectations and goals are the same every year – win the conference title and go as far as possible.
"This year's team has been so supportive of each other making practice up-beat and productive", added Hewitt. This type of camaraderie has the potential to make this a special kind of year."