season outlook

The nationally recognized Union University softball program is under new leadership this season as Heather Hall begins her coaching career. Hall, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin, will have seven returning players and seven newcomers to make up the 2008 roster.

The senior class for Union has three players, all returners to the program. Amy Chatham and Candace Cross are both in their fourth season of play for Union. Chatham will play center field and pitch some for the Lady Bulldogs. She is coming off her best offensive year at Union and was named All-Conference. Cross, a two-sport athlete at Union, can play several positions both in the infield and in the outfield for Union and it a great leader on and off the field. Ashley Walters returns for her second season with Union. As a junior, Walters led the team in hitting and was named the TranSouth and NAIA Region XI Player of the Year, and was also an NAIA All-American.

Six juniors make up the largest class on the team. Three of the juniors are in their third season with Union. Bethany Burnett will be one of Union top starting pitchers this season. Kristen Kirk will continue her starting duties in the outfield as her offense production continues to increase. Kirk was an All-Conference performer last season. Michelle Albonetti is coming off her best season, finishing second on the team in hitting last year. She was named All-Conference and All-Region as a sophomore. Three player’s in the junior class are newcomers to the program. Ashley Booker will spend time at second base and in the outfield this year, but is a real value to Union as a switch hitter and speed on the bases. Stephanie Hernandez will be a starting pitcher this season as she has numerous pitches and is a tough, smart player on the field. Ashley Blankenship will get the nod this season at first base. At 6-foot tall, she can make a lot of plays at first defensively and is also the hardest hitter on the team with great power.

Union boasts four sophomores on the roster for 2008, with just one returning to the program from last season. Candice Thompson started as a freshman behind the plate and is a very tough player, both physically and mentally. She communicates well with the pitching staff. Three of the sophomores are new to the Union program. Brittany Burkett will bring her quick reflexes to the hot corner where she will get the start at third base. Claudia Chandler will get playing time in the outfield as the season goes along. Lindsey Landreneau is a great all-around player that can play shortstop and catch which gives Coach Hall several options with the lineup.

The lone freshman on this year’s team is Brooke Laws from Union City, Tennessee. She will be a threat on the bases with her speed. Laws is very athletic and can play several positions for Union.

This team has a good mix of returning players and newcomers that will look to get Union back to the national tournament for the first time since 2005. Union plays in the increasingly tough TranSouth Conference. Union has won six conference titles in the 11-year history of the league. This year’s team is good enough to compete for a seventh TranSouth Championship in 2008.


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