The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team will officially end its offseason hiatus with the opening of the regular season at a common venue, participating in the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic beginning on Friday, Feb. 10-12 for a four-game tournament.
The Skyhawks will open the season against Nevada on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. The squad will then take on Coppin State (11 a.m.) and Army (1 p.m.) in back-to-back contests on Saturday before closing out the weekend against Mississippi Valley State (11 a.m.) on Sunday.
UT Martin is coming off a season in which the team posted a 30-26 overall record. The Skyhawks return nine players who started the majority of last season along with two pitchers. Overall, the squad will feature 13 returners from last season while welcoming eight newcomers to the fold.
Entering his 16th season at the helm of the Skyhawks, UT Martin head coach Donley Canary enters the season as the fifth winningest coach in OVC history with an overall mark of 488-368-2. Under the direction of Canary, the Skyhawks have won a pair of OVC regular season crowns (2010, 2012) and two OVC Tournament championships (2009, 2012).
Offensively, the Skyhawks return All-OVC performer Carly Gonzales. The senior centerfielder opens her fourth year as a starter after ranking third in the OVC in batting average at .372 while posting 35 runs scored, 61 base hits, 10 doubles, two home runs and 22 RBIs to go along with 22 stolen bases. The Skyhawks also return senior catcher Renate Meckl who is coming off the best offensive season of her career after notching a .298 batting average while tallying six home runs and 23 RBIs while swiping 10 bases on the year.
In the pitching circle the Skyhawks will feature senior hurler Brooke Kennedy who posted one of the best seasons in UT Martin history a year ago. Kennedy posted a 17-14 record with one save while recording a 2.16 ERA in 210.2 innings of work. The Skyhawks will also look for contributions from sophomore Sara Hooten, senior Alyssa Vanlandingham and a pair of freshmen in Samantha Scott and Seeley Layne.
This will mark the 12th time in the past 13 seasons that the Skyhawks will take part in the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic including the seventh opening tournament over the past eight years. This weekend will mark the first meeting for UT Martin between Nevada and Coppin State while possessing a 3-0 mark against Army and 7-2 record against Mississippi Valley State.