Feb. 2, 2014
By Michael Eldridge | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - Losing an all-time great in Teri Lyles to graduation, the UT Arlington softball pitching staff turns to a trio of pitchers that are looking to have breakout years in the Mavericks' first season in the Sun Belt Conference.
The lone senior on the team, Callie Collins, is joined by sophomore Shannon Carrico and redshirt freshman Brittany May in the circle. UT Arlington pitching coach Meagan Denny-White is excited about the opportunity to coach all three talented throwers, saying that each brings a unique element to the squad.
"I am really excited about my staff," Denny-White said. "They are very different and will serve a big part of the staff."
White will lean on the experience that Collins brings to the table as a senior this year and believes that her dedication to the program is going to be a big part of the success for the pitching staff in 2014.
"I am expecting a lot of leadership from Callie," Denny-White said. "I am looking forward to her putting the team on her shoulders and taking us further than we have ever been before."
Collins had a 2.64 ERA in 2013 and a 4-15 record. Despite the record, Collins finished just 13 strikeouts behind UTA's all-time leader in Lyles and learned plenty from being part of a one-two punch.
"My goals are to have the best season that I have ever had and to go out on a good note," Collins said. "I'm looking forward to pitching in a lot of games and striking people out; it is my favorite thing to do. Seeing them swing and miss really gets me excited to keep going stronger."
Complementing Collins is Carrico, a transfer from Texas Tech. Carrico brings an element of power to the starting role that allows Denny-White to make moves according to the game.
"I look forward to her coming in and being a powerhouse," White said. "She has a lot of pitches in her arsenal and has some depth. She is going to come in and be the power pitcher of the staff."
Carrico echoed the mentality of her pitching coach and Collins in being able to provide a different look from the circle. She still has some work to do and has been working with the other pitchers in improving her mentality as the game goes along.
"We have been working on getting ahead and staying ahead," Carrico said going into Friday's season-opening tournament. "The coaches have done a really good job in helping me mentally prepare for what I am going to be facing."
May returns from an injury that prevented her from having a playing role on the team last season. She is set to be the team's reliever and shut-down pitcher late in games.
"She may not have thrown a lot last year, but she knows our expecations," Denny-White said. "She is going to be something different to the staff and is going to come in and shut some people down, and will be a spark that the hitters are not going to be ready for."
The Mavericks open the 2014 season on Friday in St. George, Utah. Carrico and Collins are ready to live up to their goals for the squad.
"The sky is the limit with this team," Carrico said. "We have a lot of talent and we are going to put it to good use. The element of surprise is on our side and I have high expectations for what we are going to do with that."
UTA starts the Red Desert Classic against Weber State at 12 p.m. on Friday, followed by a game against Idaho State at 2:30 p.m.