The 2018 University of the Ozarks softball team produced a historic season as it qualified for the American Southwest Conference post-season Tournament for the first time in program history.
The Eagles were eliminated from the tournament by a score of 5-4, but are using the momentum and experience of playing in the post-season to their benefit. And, the Eagles hope to make post-season appearances a frequent occurrence under new head coach Denise Prather, who enters her first season at the helm. With momentum on their side, the Eagles return seven position starters from last season. Senior shortstop Hailey Ostrander and senior pitcher Abby Mork were named All-Conference a year ago and are prepared to make another impact in 2019.
Ostrander finished second on the team in batting (.321) and hits (26), while driving in 12 runs and recording four doubles. She led the team with seven stolen bases and owned a .407 slugging percentage.
Mork, a right-handed pitcher, threw 50.2 innings and started in nine games. She posted two wins in 12 appearances and struck out 24.
In addition to Mork and Ostrander, Taylor Teague, Megan Madden, Riki Haase, Brittney Dean, Kieara Bryant, Cheyanna Miller and Sydney Key all have starting experience.
Prather, who came from 2018 NCAA III championship runner-up Illinois Wesleyan, believes her team has put in the necessary work while maintaining a positive attitude.
"Overall, the attitude of the team is very positive," she said. "Every day they show up ready to practice. The work ethic is very strong. They want to get better."
Prather sees the team's chemistry and desire to improve to be among the strengths this season.
"I think one of our biggest strengths is team chemistry," she said. "From day one in the fall, I could tell with the way the girls interacted with one another that the team could come together really fast. The girls encourage and support each other. Another strength is their dedication. They want to improve and are dedicated to what we are trying to do here. Lastly, I think power and strength at the plate is a strength."
2018 Record (ASC): 10-22 (10-17)
2018 Conference Finish: 8th
2018 Post-Season Tournament: 1st Round
Returning Starters: Taylor Teague, INF/OF, So.; Riki Haase, INF, So.; Kieara Bryant, OF, So.; Megan Madden, OF, So.; Sydney Key, C/3B, Jr.; Hailey Ostrander, SS, Sr.; Abby Mork, P, Sr.
Newcomers: Elisa Cantu (UT/Fr./Grand Prairie, Texas); Candace Rogers (RHP/INF/Fr./Batesville, Ark.); Alexis Holt (MIF/Fr./Sallisaw, Okla.); Tori Reiber (C/INF/Fr./Commerce, Texas); Sierra Jasna (C/INF/Fr./Sallisaw, Okla.); Paige Lee (MIF/Fr./Jerusalem, Ark.)
2018 Top Batting Average: Hailey Ostrander (.321)
2018 Top RBI Producer: Kieara Bryant (17)
2018 Most HR: Kieara Bryant (3)
2018 Most Runs: Hailey Ostrander (15)
2018 Lowest ERA: Abby Mork (4.14)
2018 Most IP: Abby Mork (50.2)
Program Playoff Appearances: One (2018)
Coach Prather Quote:
"I think one of our biggest strengths is team chemistry. From day one in the fall, I could tell with the way the girls interacted with one another that the team could come together really fast. The girls encourage and support each other. Another strength is their dedication. They want to improve and are dedicated to what we are trying to do here. Lastly, I think power and strength at the plate is a strength."
9 vs #Huntingdon
9 at Rhodes College
10 vs #Huntingdon
10 at Rhodes
15-16 at *Concordia University Texas
22-23 VS *MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR
1-2 vs *SUL ROSS STATE UNIVERSITY
8-9 at *Belhaven University
12 vs HENDRIX COLLEGE
15-16 vs *LOUISIANA COLLEGE
22-23 at *Howard Payne University
29-30 vs *EAST TEXAS BAPTIST UNIVERSITY
5-6 at *Texas-Dallas
10 at Hendrix COLLEGE
16 at Central Baptist college
18-19 vs *LETOURNEAU UNIVERSITY
26-27 at *Hardin-Simmons univ.
2-4 at ASC Championship Tournament
*American Southwest Conference Game
Home Games In BOLD