Chadron’s softball team is looking to play a little hardball this season.
The players will open their preseason this weekend in Las Vegas, Nev., in the Desert Stinger tournament. They’ll compete with five different teams: University of Minnesota Duluth, Minn.; Minot State University, Minot, N.D.; Montana State University Billings, Mont.; University of Mary, Bismarck, N.D. and St. Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, Minn.
Minnesota-Duluth and Montana-Billings will most likely pose the greatest challenges to Chadron. The Duluth Bulldogs finished last season with an impressive 33-17 record and were projected to finish fourth by the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference preseason poll.
The MSUB Yellowjackets are perhaps even more formidable, projected to win the Great Northwest Athletic Conference by their preseason poll.
The Eagles will head south again next weekend to play four more preseason games in Oklahoma
Chadron was projected to finish 9th in the RMAC.
Conference competitor Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo., was predicted first by the RMAC poll and 24th out of all Division II schools by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
The fledgling Eagles softball program, entering just its sixth season, has yet to achieve a winning record.
Stack hopes this season will be different. His goals for the season include a winning record, qualification for the conference tournament and consistent progress for his players.
“We need to get ourselves better every time we’re on the field,” Stack said.
Chadron will be anchored by six returning players: senior catcher Angela Jay of Victoria, British Columbia; junior utility player Amy Schartz of Brady; sophomore third baseman Katie Londo of Colorado Springs, Colo.; senior second baseman Brittany Chacon of Broomfield, Colo.; senior outfielder Katleyn McBeth of Surrey, British Columbia; junior outfielder Nikki Ritzen of Chadron and junior infielder Danielle L’Argent of Clovis, Calif.
“We’ve got some big expectations for our returning players,” Stack said, “but again, we have a lot of new faces.”
The Eagles will open their season against Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. on Feb. 26.