Jan. 26, 2014
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech head coach Mark Montgomery is cautiously optimistic about his team's potential as the 2014 softball season approaches.
Montgomery, who enters his second year at the helm of the program, feels that this year's version of LA Tech softball has an opportunity to lay the ground work for both the immediate and future success of the Lady Techster program.
With a roster the includes nine returners from last year's 27-26 team and nine newcomers, including six freshmen, two Division I transfers and one junior college signee, Montgomery and Co. are poised to make some noise in their first year in Conference USA.
"We are pleased with the kids' work ethic and attitude," Montgomery said. "I was really energized by how good of shape the girls came back (from Christmas break) in. We started with boot camp and conditioning. We had horrible weather, and yet they persevered through that. They have really hit the field working extremely hard.
"We are just working on details. We used the fall to implement team strategies, and right now we are fine tuning some things. It has been going well. We just need to get to the season and maybe get exposed a few times to find out what else we need to work on."
Despite losing six seniors to graduation - the six combined to make 282 starts in 2013 - , Montgomery feels that this year's team is much further along than last year's group with just under two weeks remaining before the season opens.
"Last year I felt like we had 17 new kids," Montgomery said. "This year we have a core group that was there last year, that understands last year, and that knows what we are doing and why we are doing it. They can help communicate. The learning curve is happening faster so I feel we are further ahead than last year.
"I think we have about six spots that are rock solid and secure. The important thing is finding the last few (starters) and finding out who the backups are going to be. We want to experiment with the lineup (early in the season) and make some changes even within some games to give different people chances to step up and perform."
However, Montgomery believes he has more depth on this year's team and expects contributions from his entire roster throughout the season. With only 11 days remaining before the start of the season, he wants to see his players continue to practice with the same mindset that they have had since returning from break.
"I want to continue to see the intensity level remain the same," Montgomery said. "As you go along it is easy to want to play someone else instead of (work against your teammates every day in practice). Sometimes you can relax. I don't want to see that. I really want to see us maintain the intensity we have shown the last few weeks. I want to see us do some of the little things better.
"We are doing most of the important things really well, but I want to see some of the little things improve; the mental approach at the plate when you are up in the count as opposed to down in the count. I want to see them defensively maneuver themselves so they are in the right position for that batter or situation. Those are tiny things but they go a long way in determining your success."
Tech opens its season the weekend of Feb. 7-9 when it hosts the Lady Techsters Invitational, a three-day, six-team, 15-game tournament in Ruston. Tickets for the tournament are $10 per day or $20 for a three-day tournament pass.
Fans can follow all of the latest with Lady Techster Softball through Twitter at @LATechSB and by LIKING the official Facebook page at Facebook.com/LouisianaTechSoftball.