Eakin, Cougar softball aiming for ‘magical season’

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Senior Gordy Bravo gears up for her final season with the Cougars.
Senior Gordy Bravo gears up for her final season with the Cougars. BYU plays 16 games against teams that were ranked last season. (Universe Archives)

BYU softball begins its season Feb. 11 with the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona.

As the season opener draws closer, the team is continuing its preseason training regiment as it prepares for a difficult 2016, featuring 16 games against nationally ranked teams.

Head coach Gordon Eakin said the team is excited to face an aggressive schedule.

“We play many top programs and many perennial powerhouses,” Eakin said in a press release. “We are excited for the challenge and feel that our team and our program is ready to compete at this level.”

The Cougars will face nine Mountain West Conference teams, four Pac-12 teams and teams from the SEC, Big 10, Big 12 and Western Athletic Conference.

Senior Gordy Bravo is most looking forward to playing the University of Oklahoma.

“I think they’ll be the hardest to play, plus they’ve recently won (the Women’s College World Series),” Bravo said.

The Sooners were ranked No. 9 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll; six of the Cougars’ other opponents were also ranked, including No. 5 UCLA, No. 8 Tennessee, No. 13 Arizona, No. 14 James Madison and No. 22 Notre Dame.

Stats from http://www.ncaa.com/history/softball/d1
A breakdown of the teams with national championships that the Cougars will play this season. Oklahoma was the most recent winner, capturing the title in 2013. (Allison Riding)

The Cougars have a goal to be a “player-driven team.” Eakin describes them as a team that “takes ownership, is proud of themselves, has player determination, and has structure coming from practice and technique.”

He said these elements can lead to a magical season.

Senior Coco Tauali’i Bond agreed with her coach. She said this year’s roster has great team chemistry and is working hard to be a player driven team.

“We have lots of players with experience, but the older and newer players all work together, helping each other out and learning with and from each other,” Bond said.

Bravo also mentioned the goal of being a player driven team.

“We want it ourselves and that’s what pushes us to perform better,” Bravo said.

The Cougars have several tournaments on the docket early in the season. After the Kajikawa Classic, the Cougars will participate in the DeMarini Classic, the Mary Nutter Classic and the Wildcat Invitational. BYU will then play four games in Oklahoma, two against the Sooners.

The rivalry is at Utah on March 15, which will prep the Cougars for their final tournament: San Diego Classic II. The West Coast Conference season starts out with a home game against Loyola Marymount on April 8.

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