According to Radford University’s third-year head softball coach Hope Creasy, as the 2020 season is soon to begin, her infield and outfield “are a talented bunch.”
“One thing we’ve pushed since we’ve been back, and something we’ll continue to push until game day, is being a cohesive unit,” Creasy said. “We do a lot of split work to get some skill work taken care of. It’s time now that we keep them together to figure out what each of their strengths and weaknesses are. I think they’ve meshed well with those challenges they’ve faced.”
The infield corners appear to be in solid shape with senior Hunter Mundy and junior Talia Douglas holding down those spots.
“At first base, Hunter is coming in with experience,” Creasy said.. “She knows what’s going on and it gives us some leadership in the infield. We’re looking for her to come out with a strong bat. We’ve worked some other individuals in there as well but I think a lot of it comes down to who’s going to hit. She’s pretty steady for us there.”
Mundy’s 13 home runs led the team last season. That tied her for third in the Big South. She recorded 35 RBIs with eight multi-RBI games and added nine multi-hit games. She ranked fifth in the Big South with a .607 slugging percentage.
“Talia [Douglas] looks good at third,” said Creasy. “She didn’t play there a ton last year because we had to move some things around, but it’s a position she plays well. She’s able to cover the short game, throw on the run and provide a good bat for us.”
Douglas saw action in 11 games at the hot corner. She hit .300 with 54 hits, including nine doubles, one triple and six home runs last season. The Melbourne, Fla., native recorded seven multi-RBI outings. For her career she’s batting .309 and has started 114 games for the Highlanders, providing great experience in her third season in a Radford uniform.
“We also have a lot of talent at our middle infield positions,” the head coach said. “It’s something that we have to figure out what’s going to work best with our pitching staff. [Freshmen] Madison Canady and Autumn Slemaker give us a great look. They both have a pretty steady glove. They’re young but it helps give us a consistent look in the lineup this year and moving forward.”
Slemaker hit 29 total home runs with a batting average of .600 and an on-base percentage of .700 over her four years at Patrick Henry High School. Canady broke the school records for batting average, home runs, hits and on-base percentage at Lumberton Senior High School.
“In the outfield, we have a lot of speed,” Creasy said. “We also have a couple of pitcher/utility players this year that we’ll shift around a little bit. I think you’ll see Sydney Fisher, Destiny Freeman and Riley Oakes out there primarily, along with Lauren Maddrey. A lot of that will depend on pitching rotation and each role can vary based on how the bats are going.”
Fisher bounced all around the field a season ago but saw eight games in the outfield. She was a force to be reckoned with at the plate recording 82 hits. She claimed the 2019 Big South batting title with a .396 batting average.
Freeman had an outstanding freshman campaign and ranked fifth in the conference with 10 home runs. She also led the team with 42 RBIs and 12 multi-RBI games. She played 38 games in the outfield and had a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Oakes was a district champion for three years at Bishop Moore Catholic High School and was voted the district MVP as a freshman. The senior Maddrey has played in 124 games for the Highlanders and has a career .960 fielding percentage.
“I think since this is a young group altogether, they’re going to go in headstrong and be ready to go,” Creasy said. “They don’t really have preset notions about any given opponent we may face so I think that adds a good youthful mix to our experienced lineup.”