BREVARD COUNTY – Eastern Florida State College softball will take the field later this month with a new head coach and some exciting new players that will complement some established returning talent.

Shelby Petik, who previously served for three years at Presbyterian College, is now at the helm of EFSC’s college softball program, and she indicated that she has high hopes for her team.

“Our goal this year is we want to win the conference,” Ms. Petik said. “We want to win the Southern Conference. Our goal is to make state tournaments, make a run at the state tournament, hopefully move on from there but I think it’s going to be a very unusual season again this year unfortunately with COVID.”

Ms. Petik won’t be the only new face fans will see at the Titan Softball Complex this season. Among those who will be participating on the field are three freshman pitchers that Ms. Petik is particularly excited about.

“We’re really excited. We brought in three freshmen pitchers, all are different, all are unique in their own right. One player, Mandy (Hedetniema-Taylor) from St. Augustine, she throws very hard,” said Ms. Petik. “We saw a lot of strikeouts from her this fall. She’s going to be our power arm. Makenzie Fore, another great kid, great control, she’s from Oviedo, FL and she’s able to change the pace with her pitches. She locates, commands the strike zone and we have our third freshman, Ariana Gonzalez and she’s going to dice you up. She keeps all of our hitters off-balance and we saw really, really good stuff from her this fall.”

Those three join returning pitcher/outfielder Trinity Howard, who Ms. Petik noted was an all-conference player last year that led the country in innings pitched.

Ms. Petik is excited about a trio of outfielders that she hopes will be part of an offense that utilizes both its speed and power to its advantage.

“I think (outfielder) Kayla Domon is going to have a breakout year….she absolutely silently tore it up this fall. She’s a quiet leader. She goes out, does her work, works hard every single day and you don’t realize the type of numbers that she puts up every single day until you’re looking at the stats,” Ms. Petik said. “She’s got power from the left side and absolutely can fly. (Outfielder) Molly Reid, another, she’s a third-year senior. We’re really going to be leaning on her veteran leadership in the outfield and (utility player) Katilyn Wilson, she’s just consistent and reliable. You know what you’re going to get every single day out of her bat and she can swing it too so those are three returners that I believe are going to have a huge impact.”

Last year, injuries caused the team to struggle, especially at the end of the season. They finished with an 18-24 overall record, according to efsctitans.com. However, there seems to be a belief seems to be that the team’s depth will be a huge asset for the 2022 season, an aspect of the team Ms. Petik discussed while praising her club’s infield.

“We’re going to have a great infield. I really believe that,” she said. “There’s going to be consistency and there’s going to be players playing their true positions this year and not the fifth-string third baseman and outfielder catching because of injuries….Grasyn Holland, we picked her up from Flagler College, she’s going to find her way into the lineup. She’s going to be a starter in the infield for us if she continues working the way she is. She can glove it up and flash some leather so I was very excited about her addition and I have high expectations for her and obviously she has high expectations for herself as well.”

Eastern Florida State opens play at a tournament in Clearwater on Jan. 28 against Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and South Georgia State College.

The team’s schedule will give fans plenty of opportunities to cheer on the Titans in Melbourne, with a whopping 30 home games on the team’s slate, according to Ms. Petik. That regular season home schedule will conclude with a visit from defending national champion Florida Southwestern State College for a doubleheader on Thursday, April 28.

“It’s just going to be one of those things where this is the grind, whether you’re looking to play at a four-year (college) or not, this is college softball and we’re pretty fortunate, these girls are surrounded by other athletes that have won national championships, that go to national tournament every year and they see all their classmates grinding out there and working hard and sweating and they see what they’ve accomplished and we see it as a coaching staff, it’s like ‘hey we can be one of the premier junior colleges in the country,” Ms. Petik added. “Other sports here are doing it, why can’t we? With our athletes, with our local talent, with our facilities, we’re really excited about this season, about the future of Eastern Florida softball.”

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