April 25, 2007
Much has been spoken and written about the infusion of young talent on the Lady Bisons softball team this season.
But Thursday afternoon, when the Lady Bisons () meet Middle Tennessee State University at 4 p.m. at Draper Diamond for the last home game of the season, two veterans of the program will be honored --- senior Julia Davidson and junior Niki Bails, who is leaving the program to concentrate on clinical work for her nursing degree.
"Niki has clinicals next year and she is very dedicated to the nursing program," Lady Bisons coach Kristin Peck said. "That is going to take a tremendous amount out of her next year."
Peck stresses the team will miss the versatility offered by Bails, who has played a number of roles for the team.
"We have used her mostly this year behind the plate," Peck said. "She has also played some in the outfield. She has done what we have needed her to do in both spots.
"She has helped us with her bat. She is more of a contact-type hitter, but she does have a little pop in her bat from time-to-time. She loves to run the bases and she is a smart base runner."
Bails, from Plantation, Fla., has also been a designated player and a pinch-runner when needed.
"It is going to be tough to find another person to come into your program who is as versatile as she is," Peck said. "Usually if you are known as a versatile player you play a middle infielder position and the outfield or at one corner and behind the plate or at both corners. To have someone who can play in the outfield and catch is a real unique combination. We almost have to find two players to replace one."
Davidson, a math education major from Santa Cruz, Calif., is the only true senior on the team this season.
"She has stuck it out," Peck said. "It has been a long road for her. She has matured a tremendous amount since she got here as a freshman. She has a better understanding of the game. She plays the game a little differently than when she first got here.
"She has been thrown into every situation you could possibly imagine," Peck said. "When she first came in we were using her more in the outfield. She actually could have played first base for us. She played shortstop and then played first and went back to the outfield. We played her all over the place."
Davidson responded no matter what she was asked to do on the field. She continues to work hard both on the field and at the plate.
"For us to have her power potential in the seventh spot in the line-up is huge for us," Peck said. `She does a lot of the little things right."
Both Jacobson and Bails have seen numerous changes in the program during their stay here. They will finish out their career by returning to postseason play as the Lady Bisons participate in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament for the second time in the last three years.
When the Lady Bisons head to DeLand, Fla., May 10th to prepare of the A-Sun Tournament at Stetson Jacobson and Bails will be able to lead by experience. Three other players who were part of that first A-Sun Tournament team are pitcher Kim Jacobson, first baseman Heather Collins and outfielder Leigh Little.
"Those five have really seen the transition in the program," Peck said. "When we talked about wanting to get back to the program those five were able to identify with that goal.
"The younger players are all very competitive. We sat down at the beginning of the year and talked about goals. Their first goal was to get to the tournament. We have reached that goal. Now our next goal is to win the tournament."