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Sports: Lady Demons have improved under Pickett’s charge

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Written by   Randy Benson
rbenson@thetowntalk.com

 

NATCHITOCHES –While it isn’t fair to say the rebuilding of the Northwestern State softball program is complete, the Lady Demons have made huge strides in their three seasons since coach Donald Pickett arrived in town.

“Two years ago, I said the reinforcements were coming,” said NSU pitcher Kelee Grimes, a junior from Pineville. “The reinforcements are here and they’re talented.

“Now there’s not a team in our conference that we can’t beat. There’s not a series that we go into where we don’t have a chance to sweep.”

That wasn’t the case when Grimes arrived on campus three years ago.

Pickett, a former Memphis assistant, inherited a program with a rich softball tradition that had fallen in hard times, going 10-45 overall and 5-24 in the Southland Conference in 2008.

“We knew it was not going to be a quick rebuilding job,” Pickett said.

“It was going to take time. The program had fallen pretty far. You can’t rebuild programs overnight any more.”

Pickett was further handicapped by the fact that by the time he was offered the job, the recruiting season was over. His freshman class for the 2009 season consisted of Grimes, who was signed by athletics director Greg Burke while the Demons were searching for a coach, and outfielder Samantha Roberts of Ruston, whose mother is a former NSU softball player, along with third baseman Tiffany Ward.

“I had been coming to games here my whole life,” Roberts said.

“I always planned to play at Northwestern State. I never wanted to go anywhere else.”

The Demons, outmanned at every position, suffered through a 5-45 season in 2009 as Grimes went 3-27 as Northwestern State’s only reliable pitcher, and Roberts hit .221.

“I have a lot of respect for what Kelee and Samantha went through that season,” Pickett said. “They kept a good attitude and kept working to get better. I think you can say we’re ahead of schedule today. A big reason that we’re ahead of schedule is how hard Kelee and Samantha worked and made themselves better players.”

The Lady Demons made a huge jump last season, going 27-27 overall, including a 13-17 mark in Southland play. They got off to the school’s best start in nine seasons this year before falling a little.

NSU will go into this weekend’s series at Texas-Arlington with a 22-16 overall record and a 6-9 record in the

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Written by demon53

April 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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