Jan. 28, 2014
By Michael Eldridge | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas – With just over a week away until UT Arlington softball begins its first season campaign in the Sun Belt Conference, the positional races for the Mavericks outfield lineup are heating up.
Sophomores Jolene Schaefer and Britnea Barilli are joined by incoming freshman Shelbi Sikes and Mallory Foster to compete for the four positions in the outfield.
"There are four girls competing for three spots in our outfield right now," UT Arlington coach Kristie Fox said. "It is going to be based upon them working hard defensively and who is going to produce for us offensively. All four girls are evenly matched."
Schaefer and Barilli were two of just seven Mavericks that played in all 53 games in 2013. Barilli held a .253 batting average and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Defense is a big emphasis to Fox when determining who is going to claim the remaining spots in the starting lineup when UTA takes the field in St. George, Utah for the season opener on Feb. 7.
"We need them to be 100 percent on routine plays," Fox said. "We can't give up extra base hits. What I don't want to do is give up extra base hits and give up a run on a single. We want to make the other team have to beat us with four singles, rather than extra base hits."
Schaefer, a starter in all 53 games in center field last season, heads into the campaign as a team leader after a year of experience under her belt. Schaefer points to that experience to help build leadership in the outfield.
"We didn't have a lot of leadership in the outfield last year because it was mostly freshman," Schaefer said. "This year we are more experienced and it is a great feeling to have the outfield back."
Schaefer said that the group has been working on making sure they make the right plays when they need to and getting the outs that they need to make. Offensive production is also an important factor in who starts, as the group is working on increasing confidence at the plate.
"Offensively we need to get the constant hits," Schaefer said. "In prime time, we need to make sure we execute."
The Mavericks begin the 2014 season in the Red Desert Classic facing Weber State and Idaho State on Feb. 7.