The softball program at Shawnee State will play 52 regular season affairs, including 18 home games, in a schedule release that was announced by Steve Whittaker on Tuesday.
Along with the 18 home games that SSU will participate in during the year, the Bears will also being heading south to participate in the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. for their first 12 contests of the season. Of their 22 remaining contests on the road, only four — two back-to-back doubleheaders at Campbellsville (Ky.) on April 3 and 4 — sits more than a two-and-a-half hour drive from campus.
At North Myrtle Beach, Shawnee State will be playing seven different schools, including MSC affiliate member Midway (Ky.) twice and Brescia (Ky.) two additional times.
Following that trip, the Bears, other than a drive to Bluefield State on Saturday, March 14 and two road trips to Pikeville for a doubleheader on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 31 at 3 p.m., won’t leave the Buckeye State as SSU hosts Kentucky Christian (Wednesday, March 11, doubleheader, 3 p.m.), Thomas More (doubleheaders on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at 3 p.m. and 12 p.m.), Ohio Christian (Monday, March 23, doubleheader, 3 p.m.), and Cumberlands (Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28, 3 p.m.), with the lone road trip for Shawnee State being a doubleheader at Rio Grande (Tuesday, March 17, 3 p.m.).
Over the remainder of the regular season, the Bears alternate trips from home, with Shawnee State making two return trips on the opening week of April in playing Ohio Christian (Thursday, April 1, 3 p.m.) and Campbellsville (Saturday, April 3, 2 p.m. and Sunday, April 4, Noon) in a pair of doubleheaders. Two four-game homestands against conference foes Lindsey Wilson (April 8, 3 p.m. and April 9, 3 p.m.) and Cumberland (April 17, 3 p.m. and April 18, 12 p.m.) sandwich a road doubleheader against Kentucky Christian (April 15, 3 p.m.), while a four-game road trip to Georgetown (April 24, 3 p.m. and April 25, 2 p.m.) rounds out the regular season schedule.
Whittaker, who returns for his fifth season at the helm of the program, is 85-103 all-time at SSU but has accumulated a 74-68 record from the 2017 through 2019 seasons, with winning records in every year, after going 11-35 in his first campaign while attempting to rebuild the program.
Two four-year seniors, Ashtyn Saunders and Haley Rawlins, will look to continue to push the rebuild forward. Saunders, who has played in 120 games and started in 110 of those affairs, currently sits second all-time in batting average (.446), is third all-time in on-base percentage (.490), and is seventh in stolen bases (36). The senior utility player needs nine stolen bases to tie the all-time school record of 45 set by Abbey Barrett. Rawlins, meanwhile, has played in 131 career contests and started in 119 of those bouts as the senior has improved her batting average in each of her three seasons in an SSU uniform.
In addition to the duo, Bailey Kemp, Gracie Keplinger, Ashton Rankin, Maureen Wolansky, Brooke Webb, and Scioto County natives in Marissa Markins and Faith Brown are among the key returnees. Kalle Coleman, a junior transfer from Morehead State who put together eight home runs and 17 RBI in her career with the Eagles — including six home runs and 12 RBI as a sophomore in 2019 — heads up a group of 14 newcomers to the unit.
All home games will be held at Portsmouth High School. The Mid-South Conference Tournament will be held from Thursday, May 1 through Saturday, May 3.
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