Written by: Matthew Sokol – Campbell blog contributor
After earning a trip to the finals of last year’s Big South Conference Tournament, the ladies in Buies Creek are eager to get the 2017 season started.
The Fighting Camels were picked to finish third in the preseason poll for the third time since rejoining the Big South in 2011 and for the second time in four years they’ve earned the top-three overall selection.
A major focus for the team this year will be offensive production led by Amber Schisler, the 2017 Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Schisler led the team in hits (67), and tied the team lead in home runs (16), while driving in a team-best 46 RBI for the Camels.
Another key component from the Fighting Camels offense last season was Rachel McCollum. The Seven Springs, N.C. product tied with Schisler for the home run lead, while recording 55 hits and scoring 41 runs as a freshman. McCollum led the team with 25 two-out RBI and she is looking to continue her success heading into this season.
“I am preparing for the upcoming season by staying mentally tough,” said McCollum. “We are taking a lot of cuts in practice, and we are keeping our offense strong … Stepping up to the plate and really performing with two outs is very important and changes the momentum of the inning tremendously.”
“Pitching to Rachel in front of me or in back of me along with my other teammates getting on base as well is a big deal,” said Schisler on having McCollum beside her in the lineup.
While the team may have the players and means in place to have a successful season, they know executing on the opportunities that are presented on the field will be vital to their overall success.
“Our focus is to score runs, but one big thing for this year is that we want to make sure we aren’t leave people on base and not leaving opportunities on the field,” said head coach Todd Bradley.
As one of the seniors on the team, Schisler believes she is surrounded with teammates that can contribute well beyond their years. The San Diego, Calif. natives plans to execute the opportunities presented their way through a collaborative team effort.
“These girls have experience under their belt, and our lineup is made up of a lot of three-hole hitters all the way through, something that coach Bradley preaches every time,” noted Schisler.
Head coach Todd Bradley has centered the team focus on offensive production, and wants the team to connect on every opportunity they can one step at a time.
“We want to start the season strong, and it is about going out by competing every single inning of the weekend,” before adding, “Everybody knows where we were last year, and ultimately the goal is to not fall short.”
The Fighting Camels open the 2017 season this weekend at Amanda Littlejohn Stadium as Campbell hosts St. Francis (Pa.) Friday at 3:00pm in the Campbell Invitational. Follow the Fighting Camels all season long on social media @GoCamelsSB