High expectations set for Texas State in 2017

Photo by Gerald Castillo

College Softball

Texas State set a new standard in 2016. After making the NCAA tournament, the Bobcats return most of its production from that 40-win team and, led by All Conference pitcher Randi Rupp, look to end this season with a conference championship.

Projected to finish second in the Sun Belt behind defending champion Louisiana-Lafayette, the Bobcats aren’t catching anyone off guard in 2017.

After Rupp’s freshman season two years ago, the biggest question was whether Texas State could add pitchers too its staff to give the star prospect some innings off. Rupp pitched 249.1 innings in 2015 and last season, head coach Ricci Woodard brought in reinforcements. Rupp did pitch more total innings her sophomore season (265), but that includes both a run to the Sun Belt Championship game and an NCAA Regionals appearance. Quincy Charleston and Jodi Paige Williams combined for 135.3 innings their debut seasons in San Marcos. With added firepower inside the circle in Ole Miss transfer pitcher Krista Jacobs, who pitched 19.1 innings for the Rebels last season, Texas State has potentially the deepest pitching rotation in the conference.

This year’s big question isn’t about the pitching as much as its about whether Texas State can find consistent hitters. After finishing dead last in team batting average (.256), Texas State needs to replace two of its top six hitters. As good as the Bobcats’ defensive prowess is, if Texas State wants to finally overtake the Ragin’ Cajuns as the Sun Belt’s premier team, offensive production is a must.

This weekend the Bobcats open the season with their annual CenturyLink Classic.

First up is Friday’s doubleheader against Abilene Christian at 3 p.m. and Texas Tech at 5 p.m. The Bobcats swept the Wildcats during last season’s Classic by a combined score of 17-4 that included a 10-strikeout combo performance from Rupp and Williams in the opening game.

Texas Tech holds an 18-14 lead in the all-time series against the Bobcats, but Woodard’s club took two out of three games against the Red Raiders during 2015’s Classic, the last time Tech was on the Bobcats’ schedule.

After Friday’s doubleheader, the Bobcats have a second Saturday morning and early afternoon against Iowa at 10 a.m. and Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 12:30 p.m. Against the Hawkeyes, Texas State holds a 1-0 record at home. The Bobcats swept the Islanders last season by a combined score of 8-0.

Sunday, Texas State concludes its host tournament with a 2 p.m. game against Abilene Christian. The Bobcats won’t return to Bobcat Softball Complex until March 8 following the conclusion of the CenturyLink Classic.

San Marcos Daily Record

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