Clarksville, TN – Despite being delayed a day due to weather, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) softball team opens its 2021 regular season and 36th season this weekend at Troy, Alabama as they participate in the Troy Invitational.
The Govs will be joined by Western Carolina, Mercer, and host Troy at the Invitational, but they will not play Troy this weekend due to the revamped schedule.
After a day’s delay in starting the event due to weather, Austin Peay State University opens play, 10:00am, Saturday morning versus Western Carolina, followed by a 3:00pm afternoon tilt against Mercer.
Austin Peay State University continues play Sunday with a pair of morning games, first a 9:00am game versus Western Carolina followed by an 11:30am contest versus Mercer.
“We are pumped to say the least and ready to get out on the field and see someone else other than the teammates that we’ve been competing with,” said third-year head coach Kassie Stanfill. “Its been over 300 days since we’ve been able to play the game that we love, so we’re just excited to get the opportunity and ready to get going.”
All three of the APSU Govs opponents opened their seasons last week, with Western Carolina going 2-2, Mercer 2-0, and Troy 4-0.
“We always try in the pre-conference schedule to set up some games versus quality competition,” Stanfill said. “We want to face people that will truly get us ready for conference play. I feel the two weekends that we have scheduled (before conference play opens) we’re definitely going to get a taste of that.”
The Governors enter the season with the largest roster in program history, with 26 players, including four super seniors (Kelsey Gray, Drew Dudley, Emily Moore, Brett Jackson) that elected to return after the NCAA granting an extra season due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ended the 2020 season in mid-March of last year.
The Govs also return 11 other returning letter winners (Kendyl Weinzapfel, Bailey Shorter, Riley Suits, Katie Keen, Brooke Pfefferle, Emily Harkleroad, Morgan McMahon, Shelby Harpe, Lexi Osowski, Harley Mullins, Katelyn Smith) four players that sat out 2020 due to injuries (Kelsey Gross, Ali King, Alex Grubbs, Maddie Boykin) and seven true freshmen (Jordan Benefiel, Mea Clark, Mackenzie Gareau, Mallori Nesbit, Kaitlin Woodruff, Maddie Berner, Alyssa Archuleta).
“We expect some nerves Game 1, probably Day 1 in general as we change up the lineup and figure up that works best for us,” said Stanfilll. “But we’re just going to go out, focus on us, put the nerves behind us after a couple of pitches, and find a way to compete. I’m hoping the eagerness of doing that will shine through and we’ll still have a good weekend under our belt, minus the face our opponents have already going through that the prior weekend.”
This weekend and next also are magnified for the Govs, as they only have those two weekends to get ready for Ohio Valley Conference play, which opens on March 6th at Southeast Missouri.
“We’re very mindful we only have two weekends before conference play instead of a month,” Stanfill said. “We’re going to use the first two weeks to figure out the pieces of the puzzle and even into the first couple weekends of conference play to sort through some of those things. It’s just going to be the nature of the beast.
“No matter what, we just go out and compete, think of Team 36 and what we can do and that’s all we can control.”