Ada — The East Central University softball team finished the 2013 season with a 42-13 overall record and a 23-7 mark in the Great American Conference (2nd place). So for 2014 the bar has been set higher, especially when you add in the fact that the Lady Tigers lost just three players from the 2013 team.
The success from a year ago and the retention of the majority of the squad has not gone unnoticed by the GAC coaches, as ECU was picked to finish second (87 points/2 first-place votes) in the 2014 GAC Preseason Poll.
Southeastern Oklahoma State was picked to finish first, with 97 points and seven first-place votes. Arkansas-Monticello was picked third (75 points/2 first-place votes), Arkansas Tech fourth (70 points), Southern Arkansas fifth (60 points), Henderson State sixth (59), Ouachita Baptist and Southern Nazarene seventh (36 points), Northwestern Oklahoma State ninth (33), Southwestern Oklahoma State 10th (27) and Harding 11th (25).
“I think that are expectations are really high,” said head coach Destini Anderson. “We have a lot of experience with whom we have coming back and who we have added to the mix.”
The Lady Tigers return a total of 13 letterwinners and seven starters, but did lose three starters from 2013. The group of losses includes 2013 GAC Player of the Year Shelby Simmons and All-GAC Second Team pick Ali Manship.
While ECU has key losses, they also have several key returners, which includes GAC Freshman of the Year Lacey Paulk.
Paulk is one of two returning pitchers for the Lady Tigers, with junior Brianna Nunley.
The duo combined for a 30-9 record in the circle and helped force their opponents to a .259 batting average.
“Luckily we have our top two pitchers back from 2013 in Lacey Paulk and Brianna Nunley,” added Anderson.
Paulk finished the season with a 19-3 record, which included a run of 17-straight winning games.
The Goldsby, Okla., native stuck out 133 batters, threw 15 complete games and five shutouts to earn All-GAC First Team honors.