AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Fresh off their third consecutive 30-win season and four NCAA Regional appearances in the last five years, the Augusta State Jaguars are hungry to do something special this season.
The offense returns the school's first All-American, Kristen Jones, who received the honor as a utility player. She hit .365 with seven homers and 48 RBI as a junior in 2011, to go with 33 runs scored, a team-high .449 on-base percentage, and a .572 slugging percentage while starting all of the team's 55 games.
Jessica Thornton and Kacee Camp, ASU's other two All-Southeast Region selections from last year's squad, also look to keep swinging hot bats. Thornton posted a team-high .397 average, smashing 12 home runs, scoring 46 runs, and notching a .678 slugging percentage; Camp was second on the team with a .367 average, scoring 42 runs, knocking in 42 RBI, and swiping a team-high 26 bases in 31 attempts.
"Camp, Jones, and Thornton have anchored our offense the last three years, and I expect this year to be no different," head coach Melissa Mullins said. "They each have power, can bunt, and have speed to provide a tough stretch in the lineup for our opponents."
ASU also returns all three starting arms from a rotation that boasted a 2.44 ERA and 181-to-44 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season, as Emily Headrick (16-7 record, 98 strikeouts in 158 innings), Heather Hughes (14-9 record, opponents hitting .236 against her) and Laura Brown (5-4 record, two assisted shutouts) all look to post dominating performances on the mound.
The Jaguars have some high-quality competition on the schedule this year, as they currently have four top-25 teams on the schedule: North Georgia (No. 3), Lenior-Rhyne (9th), Rollins (11th), and Armstrong Atlantic (21st), with Indianapolis (26th), Flagler (27th), and Barry (36th) in the 'receiving votes' category.
"We make our schedule tough on purpose," Mullins said. "We take pride in our strength of schedule, because that's how you get stronger -- playing strong teams."
ASU opens its season in the Hughston Sports Clinic Classic hosted by Columbus State against West Alabama on Friday, February 10 at 4:00 p.m and then plays Lenior-Rhyne immediately after.