NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont University Softball will look to a class of six seniors to help guide it through the 2019 campaign as the program vies for another appearance in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. The senior class is comprised of Hayley Baker (Rockwall, Texas), Baylee Cook (Lewisburg, Tenn.), Sami Long (Springfield, Ill.), Taylor Hargrove (Greenbrier, Tenn.), Cameryn Strother (Chesapeake, Va.) and Chelsea Thomas (Hot Springs, Ark.).
"Our seniors have been with me since I started here at Belmont. They have done an amazing job of sustaining and continue to develop an environment and culture that we can be proud of as a program. These young ladies have established themselves as leaders on and off the field," said Head Coach Brian Levin.
The top returning slugger for the team is Cook, who batted .275 one year ago with seven doubles, one triple and 10 RBI. She was also flawless in fielding percentage at 1.000 and started and played in all 50 games. Classmate Baker started and played in 46 contests last season and batted .232 with five doubles, one triple and 13 RBI. The 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-America® Division I Softball Third Team selection concluded her junior campaign ranked 48th nationally in sacrifice flies.
Versatile Long was tied for third on the team in homeruns last season and made appearances in 34 contests. In her first year as a Bruin, Hargrove batted .263 and her speed lifted her to second on the team in stolen bases all year. Classmate Thomas played and started in 48 games in her first season as a Bruin and was second on the team in at-bats (149), doubles (8), and homeruns (4). She also led the team in putouts (313) and post a .968 fielding percentage. Strother batted .211 one year ago, earning five starts over 24 games for her first year as a Bruin.
"As a program, we are only as good as our senior leadership, and I feel they have done as good a job as I have on any team I have coached. They will all be contributors to the program this season. All of them have accepted the roles they play within the team and I feel this is what brings them respect and credibility as leaders among their teammates. I am excited to see where they take us this year," Levin said.
Belmont opens the 2019 season on the road at the Madeira Beach Invitational in Tampa, Fla., February 15-17.