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Golden Eagle Softballers Open 2013 Season on West Coast

Caroline Walker

Feb. 6, 2013

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - In their second year at the helm, co-head coaches Jon Malgradi and Kirsten Voak built as tough a schedule in recent memory, and it all gets going on Thursday when the Golden Eagles open their season in a mid-week doubleheader against Cal-State Fullerton.

It will be the first Division 1 exposure for the nine true freshman on the team, while 12 newcomers in all will look to make their mark on the program this season.

The Last Meeting
Southern Miss2
Cal State Fullerton4
March 2, 2012
Fullerton, Calif.

Fullerton, who finished 20-31 in 2012, host the Golden Eagles for a two-game set at Anderson Family Field, site of last year's Fullerton Invitational which the team took part in.

Following that, the team will head north to Fresno State where they will take part in a three-day tournament against UC Davis (24-28), UC Riverside (25-28), Sacramento State (27-19) and host Fresno State (36-23) before coming back across the country with a stop in Waco, Texas to take on their first NCAA regional participant in Baylor (34-22).

"There's no doubt about it - these are the trips and games that get you ready and set the table for the rest of the season," said Malgradi. "We have had a great fall and spring to prepare and are looking forward to putting all our newcomers into the fray and seeing how they respond.

In 2013, the Southern Miss softball team will enter the year as one of the youngest in Division 1 play, returning just five players from the 2012 squad - and only three starters.

Caroline Walker, College Sports Madness' 2012 C-USA Freshman of the Year, returns for her sophomore season at shortstop. At catcher, Mackenzie Sher, who has carried the bulk of the load at that position for the better part of two seasons, provides a steady rock for 2012's top starter, senior Beth Dietrich. With Walker and Sher combining their infield play and Dietrich's steady-as-can-be mentality, the Golden Eagles return about as good a situation as one could hope for with just three starters.

Southern Miss is expected to start three freshmen alongside Walker in the infield while they could combine senior Danielle LaPointe and junior Madison Edwards at two of the outfield positions, with true freshmen Jenifer Gary and Kristen Franson factoring into a four-person outfield rotation.

Game time for the Fullerton games is set for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. central with live updates available on the Southern Miss softball Twitter feed, @USMSoftball, and on Gametracker.

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