Valdosta State (Blazers)
Head Coach: Thomas Macera (11th season — 485-122 record)
Conference: Gulf South Conference
2016 Finish: 41-14-2 (22-9-1 in the GSC)
The Blazers are coming off a 40-win season, and are led at the plate by Chelsea Canara. The senior third-baseman recorded a career highs with a .360 batting average and .506 slugging percentage — including 10 doubles, a triple, and four homers. She ranked among the league's top-10 in sacrifice hits with 10 sacrifice bunts (8th) and four sacrifice flies (tied for 2nd).
Valdosta State third baseman Chelsea Canara. (Valdosta State Athletics)
Left-fielder Brandy Morgan returns as an All-South Region First-Team selection posting a .321 average last season to go along with 14 home-runs and 41 RBI. Junior Heather Robinson was tabbed an All-GSC seond-team honoree, after racking up 12 homers and 35 RBI's as VSU's primary designated hitter.
11th-year head coach Thomas Macera offered us the following insight on the Blazer's upcoming season:
What will be the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's team?
"We’re a much younger team. We’re a young team, and we’ll have to figure out how to remain competitive while dealing with those growing pains this year."
Which newcomers do you think will make the biggest impact for your team this season?
"Jessica Mohl, Avery Lamb, Kasie Johnson, Tana McDaniel, and Haley Garrett. Each of these girls will be contributors right away this year."
Which players do you expect to lead the team this season? Please name the captains if you know them.
"Brandy Morgan, Taylor Hartenbach, Chelsea Canara, and Heather Robinson are our captains this year, and they will all help lead the team. Brandy is a strong leader that has started every game for us over the last two seasons, and Chelsea will enter her fourth year as a starter for the program this season. I feel very confident in the leadership we have with this program."
Is there one team/series you have circled on your calendar as your 'Game of the Year'?
"The bullseye this year has to turn from Alabama-Huntsville to North Alabama due to UNA’s success last season. Our series against them will be the last Gulf South Conference series we play this year, and I feel like that it will have a heavy impact on where the GSC Tournament will be played this year."
Is there anything else you want fans to know about your team?
"We’ve got a hard-working bunch of players this year, and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got and do what we have to do to get the job done."