Santiago Archieri/ Staff Writer
With the new season just around the corner, the Florida International University softball team looks to turn it around after missing the conference tournament last season.
Coach Gator Rebhan will be entering his second season as the head coach of the Panthers. The team will kick off their fresh journey and start the season in Miami on Friday, February 12th against in-state rivals, the Seminoles of Florida State. This will be the first of five games of an action packed weekend for the softball team. They will have a doubleheader on Saturday, February 13th against St. Johns and Illinois, and wrap it up on Valentine’s day as they play LIU-Brooklyn and Valparasio.
Last season, the team ended up 30-24 overall, a record to not have their heads down over, but their conference record would haunt them, as a 10-14 mark was not enough to reach the Conference USA tournament. Down the stretch when it mattered the most, the Panthers lost 7 of their final 11 games, with six of those losses being against Conference USA opponents.
But that is all in the past now. A new season brings a newfound excitement for the entire squad. Fresh faces, a new season, and high hopes.
Along with a new season come some new faces to the field. Some might find it concerning, but two of the starters are freshmen, and the biggest additions have Coach Gator Rebhan especially excited.
The team has brought in two freshmen to their pitching squad, as well as leftie transfer. Coach Rebhan says this is their major key moving forward, saying how some variety and a bigger rotation for the upcoming season is essential.
“Last year, I think we didn’t have the pitching to get us through weekends, but this year we do, and after struggling on the mound last season against conference teams, I think it will be a big improvement this season,” said Coach Rebhan.
Corrine Jenkins had 35 appearances for the Panthers last season, and led the team with a 3.11 ERA. Rachel Dwyer had the second lowest ERA with 4.09, and had the second most appearances with 21. Dwyer, a sophomore, looks to keep a key part in the rotation.
And although some new rookies on the team might be shining, the Panthers are bringing back some phenomenal talent. 17 Panthers are returning for the 2016 season, and in this list is the Stephanie Texeira. Texeira was recently awarded yet another honor of Conference USA all preseason team. Entering her third season with FIU, Texeira finished her 2015 campaign with some record breaking numbers. If a .444 batting average and 8 homeruns aren’t impressive enough, she also led Conference USA in on base percentage with .833 and finished ranked third in RBI with 51. She looks to lead the Panthers yet again this season, but hopefully this time with a bid to the Conference USA Softball Tournament.