Nine New Players Join Blue Raider Softball Roster

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New Blue Raider Softball Players
photo from MTSU Athletics

Softball head coach Jeff Breeden is always excited at the milestones for the start of the season. Move-in, individual workouts starting, especially Easton demo day when the softball tries out gloves, bats and other gear for the new year.

But nothing gets him more excited than the first day of full practice, which started Tuesday, September 6.

“This was the first time that we have actively gotten into the transfer portal,” Breeden said. “On paper, it looks like we’ve bettered ourselves. They’ve got to prove that. I’m anxious to see how the veteran newcomers react to how we do stuff.”

Breeden and his two assistants, long-time coach Tony Foti and new pitching coach Helen Peña, have brought in nine new Blue Raiders to the 2022-23 roster for the fall, including four Division I transfers and five incoming freshmen, joining a plethora of talent around the diamond to make a young roster. Only one player, fifth-year pitcher Gretchen Mead, will have exhausted their eligibility by the end of the spring.

“My biggest thing for the fall is to get everybody in a cohesive mixture together,” Breeden said.

All four transfers come into Murfreesboro with good stats from their previous stops, either in the circle or in the batter’s box. Breeden said that production, coming from conferences of similar competition to Conference USA, should result in the production translating onto the field at MTSU.

Take Julia Garcia, who slashed .342/.398/.576 at catcher and third base for Maryland Eastern Shore last spring, leading the Hawks with seven home runs and 16 doubles en route to a First Team All-MEAC selection. Or Kamryn Carcich, who posted a 1.98 ERA and a 3-2 record in 14 appearances and seven starts in the circle for Murray State. Shelby Echols, a second baseman from Houston Baptist, hit .448 a season ago, while outfielder Savannah Behabetz hit .352 for Incarnate Word.

All four players are expected to be fighting for starting jobs across the diamond early.

“You can see from what we picked up transfer wise that we were looking for offense,” Breeden said. “At least on paper wise, we’ve got it. All of these transfers are going to bring some oldness and some veteran top skills to a very young team at this point. So far, they’ve gelled with our existing players.”

In addition to the four transfers, MTSU also added five to their incoming freshmen class. In the circle, Paige Connors from Lake Travis, Texas will be the pitching staff’s only lefty to start this season. She comes into Murfreesboro after lettering in volleyball, basketball and softball at Lake Travis High School. Ansley Blevins is an MTSU legacy — her mom played volleyball for the Blue Raiders from 1992-95 — and comes to Murfreesboro with a power hitter pedigree, hitting .419 across her high school career.

“We’re expecting huge things out of (Blevins),” Breeden said. “She appears like she’ll be one of our leaders right off the bat, just because of the way she carries herself. (Connors) had some great summers put together, so we’re anxious to see what she can do. She’ll get a chance real early.”

Fellow Tennessee native Lexi Medlock is a Murfreesboro local, playing her high school ball down the road at Siegel High School. She’s a speedy outfielder with a slap swing Breeden expects will compete for a spot on the field early on in her career. Riley Gilmore, a power hitter from Arkansas, will look to find time at first base or DP, while the latest addition to the roster, slick-fielding shortstop Julia Sitterding from Indiana, will help take to load off of Conference USA All-Freshman shortstop Laura Mealer in practice while having “several different ways” to get in the ball game, Breeden said.

Those nine newcomers will mesh with a plethora of talent coming back for MTSU, with position battles all over the diamond. Shelby Sargent’s glove in center field will be tough to beat, as will Mealer’s Conference Player of the Year potential at shortstop, but the more depth in the circle, at first base and DP, and finding who among the team’s power hitters can stick in the outfield are just some of the answers Breeden hopes to find ahead of the spring season.

In addition to fall practice, Breeden has scheduled eight home scrimmages to help the team prepare. You can find the full schedule below.

2022 Fall Schedule

Sept. 28 vs. Vol State, 5 p.m.

Oct. 1 vs. Trevecca, 2 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Jackson State, 2 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Bellville State, 4 p.m.

Oct. 8 vs. Columbia State, 2 p.m.

Oct. 9 vs. Snead State, 2 p.m.

Oct. 12 vs. Wallace State, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 16 vs. Cleveland State, 2 p.m.