For the first time in program history, APSU softball has produced back-to-back 30-win seasons.
For head coach Kassie Stanfill, the expectation is to extend that streak for a third consecutive year.
Despite a “whirlwind” of an inaugural season for the former University of Louisville standout, the Governors’ skipper believes that the 35th team in school history is destined for greatness.
“Looking forward into the second year, it’s already 10 times better,” Stanfill said. “Just by knowing what’s going on and not always going 100 miles per hour. Honestly, our athletes probably feel that: they probably see a different staff dynamic just because we have our system and expect the same thing every day. We try to give [the players] that continuity throughout.”
The Govs were projected to finish fifth in the OVC, due to a loss of six starters and an influx of youth within the program. Stanfill spoke on the projection in stride:
“Honestly, I’m not shocked by it. I think for us it’s exciting to remind our athletes that we play with a chip on our shoulder. We go out every day to prove who Austin Peay softball is. We go out, we compete hard, and we’re going to have a ‘prove them wrong’ mentality. “
The 2019-20 season is headlined by the Governors Classic: the weekend long tournament is the first hosted by APSU since 2011 and only the third in program history.
Stanfill spoke on the Classic, saying: “I know everyone on our team was shocked that we were hosting. A lot of great things come with that, our athletes get to stay in their own bed, and get into their normal routine, but we get to play a full weekend in front of our fans. The more we get in front of our fans, the more support we are going to get. We enjoy playing in front of them, it’s an exciting time to be able to do that again.”
APSU softball hosted only 12 games a season ago, two of which against out-of-conference opponents. Stanfill has nearly doubled that number to 21 in 2020.
The schedule presents numerous high-caliber opponents, serving as a precursor to the opening of conference play in late March. Nearly half of the Govs’ out of conference contests are against teams ranked inside of last year’s top 100 teams, according to the NCAA’s Rating Percentage Index. Stanfill scheduled quality opponents by design, claiming a ‘coming-together’ will benefit her team in the Valley.
“We have teams that we’re facing that are going to help us get prepared to compete and shoot for a championship. Everyone that we’re facing is going to be a challenge. We’ve just got to play one pitch at a time and go to work.”
The Governors’ season begins Feb. 8 at the University of Chattanooga. APSU aims for their first NCAA tournament berth in school history.