Softball prepares for long road trip to start the season

Photo Courtesy of University of Nebraska at Omaha

Marissa Woolard

Get out your bats and break in the gloves – the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s softball season is here.
The Mavericks opened the 2017 season Friday, playing five games in the Ramada – UNI Dome Classic in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The team opened the tournament with a single game against Montana on Friday at 10:15 a.m. They then played two games on Saturday against Drake and Wisconsin. The Mavs closed the weekend with two final games on Saturday, Toledo at 10:15 a.m. and Northern Iowa at 2:45 p.m.

The Mavericks open the season with 29 straight road games, but will take their Omaha pride with them to every game. UNO’s softball team will also be premiering six newcomers and two redshirts. The Mavericks will be led by first year head coach DJ Sanchez.

Sanchez served as head coach at St. Gregory’s University the past four seasons. In her four seasons, she
compiled a 172-47 overall record (.785), and an 81-25 mark (.764) in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald, Sanchez mentioned how the new job has been an easy transition.

“We got here in August and hit the ground running,” Sanchez said. “For us, it was really exciting to see how all of our athletes came out and just bought into what we’re doing — from freshman to seniors. It made our transition a lot easier. Anytime there are changes, it can be difficult.”

UNO is returning with eight letter winners, including four post-season starters. Senior outfielder Lizzie Noble, senior outfielder Lia Mancuso, senior infielder Nicole Warren and junior outfielder Kelly Pattison will be the veterans who lead the team. Two starting pitchers will also return with sophomore right-hander Laura Roecker and senior right-hander Abbie Clanton.

Lizzie Noble told WOWT News that she is confident this year’s squad may sneak up on a few teams.

“Our conference is going to be very surprised by the team that shows up this year,” Noble said. “I think we have a different look, we have a different energy. We have a different motivation going into it this year, knowing what we could’ve done last year and what we know we can do this year”.

The UNO softball team is fully eligible for Summit League and NCAA postseason play. The Mavericks will try to surpass a 30-29 overall record and a 12-5 Summit League mark from just a year ago.

With returning talent, new faces and an eager first-year coach, the Mavs will look to take control of the Summit League and make an NCAA tournament appearance.