Eagles To Open Season at Home

The Emory women’s softball team is preparing for the Emory Classic this weekend to kick off what hopes to be another exciting season. The Eagles will be hosting the Classic this weekend, Feb. 9 and 10.

Two former softball players, Carey Smith-Marchi (’09C) and Shanon Andersen (’09C), will be joining the coaching staff for the 2013 season. Smith-Marchi completed her career with 138 games, starting in 136. She also earned First Team All-University Athletic Association (UAA) honors and represented the Eagles at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Atlantic First Team.

Anderson has prior experience coaching the Emory team. She also had a career ERA of 1.07, second all-time at Emory.

The addition of Smith-Marchi and Andersen is just the beginning for the Eagles. The team is undergoing significant turnover.

“Our team is in a transition year with a lot of young players, but we’re excited about our potential to continue to improve throughout the season and be ready to roll come post-season,” sophomore catcher Micah Scharff said. “The Emory Classic is always an exciting time as it is the first tournament of the year and therefore sets the tone for the rest of the spring.”

The inflow of a number of freshmen highlights the Eagles’ season of change. Several freshman will be asked to contribute early.

“We have a lot of talent on the team this year, and at practices, we have just been working on bringing everyone’s talents together,” junior first-baseman Megan Light said. “It is hard with 10 new players because they literally make up half of the team. That being said, we are excited to finally get out on the field this weekend to play.”

The Emory Classic will give the Eagles the chance to build on a successful 2012 campaign.

“The classic is a tradition,” Light said. “It’s a great way to start off the season. We are playing Agnes Scott [College] and Maryville [College], so it will be a good test to see how our hard work has been paying off in pre-season. It will really let us know where we stand.”

The Emory Classic starts the Eagles’ season every year. The tournament evidently leads to a quick transition into the season with two games against two different teams in a row, all in one weekend.

“Opening weekend is always exciting — especially the combination of nerves and excitement,” Light said. “Plus, a lot of parents are coming in town for this weekend’s games.”

But the Eagles have more on their radars than just wins against Agnes Scott College and Maryville College (Tenn.). They are striving to unify as a solid group of players and win the national title — a large yet not unattainable goal.

“This year, our main team goal is obviously win a national title; however, we are really striving to become bonded as one solid unit as well as maintaining our individual potential and uniqueness out on the field,” freshman Katie Stout said.

The team has spent the offseason working on the elements of the game they can control.

“We never stop working hard,” Scharff said. “Even when we are shut down with a loss, we keep fighting and we keep practicing.”

The Emory Classic kicks off at 12 p.m. on Saturday against Maryville at Cooper Field.

— By Nicola Braginsky