By Emily Werrett
The BYU softball team is kicking off their 2006 spring season this weekend in Hawaii.
The team plays double-headers on Thursday and Friday and finishes the tournament with a single game against Texas-Arlington on Saturday, Feb.11, 2006.
The team is coming off its best season in program history as Mountain West Conference champion with a 45-15 record. The team also earned a bid to play in the NCAA regional tournament, where they recorded an upset against then -No. 2 California.
The Cougars enter this season expecting to be even better than last year.
“This team knows they belong among the best teams in the nation now,” coach Gordon Eakin said. “They are fearless and want to show they are for real.”
Although the coaches are confident in the team”s talent, they know this year won”t be a cakewalk.
“We have another challenging schedule this year,” Eakin said. “We will play a lot of Top-25 teams and our conference will have more parity.”
BYU has secured several promising recruits, including two transfer students, Tracee Hoch and Cortney Nix.
Hoch transferred to BYU after a stellar junior college career and was a junior college All-American. She is expected to fill the vacant second base position. Nix transferred from the University of Arizona and will team up with Paige Paramore behind the plate in the catcher position.
The team also welcomes one of the most highly recruited high school players, Andrea Ramirez. Ramirez was the Los Angeles Times high school MVP last season while playing at Royal High School in Simi Valley, Calif.
“Andi Ramirez has the potential to be one of the best players in collegiate softball,” Eakin said.
The Cougars ranked No. 25 in the preseason polls and were picked to win the Mountain West Conference regular-season title in a vote by the league coaches.