Softball Season Preview: Interview with Janae Shirley
SOFTBALL: MARSHALL, Texas (2/15/13) – Saturday marks the first of many exciting games to come for the 2013 East Texas Baptist University softball team as they start their season against Austin College at 1:00 p.m. ETBU has eight home series this spring and will play in the Top 25 Tournament in Georgia. They also post one of the toughest schedules in NCAA Division III playing five teams that are currently ranked.
Head coach Janae Shirley is in her sixth season as she pursues another American Southwest Conference championship and berth into the NCAA Tournament. She guided the team to the 2010 NCAA Division III National Championship and also won the 2011 ASC Tournament.
Below is an interview with coach Shirley on the upcoming season with ETBU director of sports information Adam P. Ledyard
AL: Talk about your team and how they are coming together for the 2013 season after fall practice and the spring practice together?
JS: We are very excited about this year’s team. They are young and driven and looking to prove that they are capable of competing at a high level. This fall we spent a lot of time just trying to really get a good picture of what each player is capable of doing. This year we have been further ahead in the X’s and O’s part than we have ever been able to be at this point, which is very exciting. We are really excited to see what they are capable of doing outside of our practice.
AL: Talk about your senior Lya Swaner and what she brings to the team as far as leadership and the last member of the 2010 national championship team?
JS: Lya has been a vital part of our program for the past three years. Catching for this program since she was a freshman, she truly understands what it takes to be successful at this level. She has a clear idea of what it takes and does a great job of trying to help her team now accomplish the success that she has when she was a freshman. I will give Lya a ton of credit…her goal this year is to pay it back to her team and help them go to that next level. When she was a freshman the people before her helped build a program and helped her understand that concept and now she wants to return the favor to this young team. She is such a hard worker and a talented athlete that she truly is the glue that helps hold this team together.
AL: Talk about your schedule this year and the number of high quality teams you are playing from national champions Pacific Lutheran to participating in the Top 25 softball tournament in Georgia?
JS: This season, we probably have one of the toughest schedules that we have ever had. Every time we set foot on the field we will be challenged. In my mind this is great preparation for our divisional play. The last time we attended the Leadoff Classic in 2010 it really prepared us well for the rest of our season. It is always exciting to play the defending national champion. We are fortunate that PLU has agreed to come back to ETBU for the second year in a row. That game will be a measuring stick to what this team is capable of doing. We gave them two good games last year and have every hopes to do the same this year.
AL: Talk about the toughness of the ASC and the competition amongst the teams especially with two teams in the top 25 right now and how the ASC is one of the best in NCAA Division III?
JS: The ASC East is and has been one of the best in the country. We are fortunate this year to have some great pre-season games to help prepare us for the level of competition we will see in the East divisional play. Across the board the East continues to get stronger every year and it is truly a dog fight to make the conference tournament. Our goal is to take it one game at a time and compete every time we play.
AL: Why would somebody want to play for you at ETBU and your softball program?
JS: I truly believe that the tradition that the ETBU Softball program has is one of the biggest things that brings players to our program. This program has a standard set by the teams of the past of always competing and playing hard. When you come here you know you have a chance to win a national championship and every player wants to do that. The group of athletes that we bring in we truly feel are great fits for our University. They represent our program well and play because they love the game and want to glorify God in doing so.