DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY

Catamount softball to celebrate 10 years

By DENISE GIDEON

The Western Carolina University Department of Athletics will celebrate a decade of Catamount softball in 2016 with the selection of a 10-year anniversary team and the program’s top 10 moments as chosen by a special committee.

WCU-Softball

The WCU softball team

The top 10 players and best moments will be released over a two-week period leading up to the celebration during the Southern Conference weekend series against UNC Greensboro on April 2-3. Profiled players and moments will be revealed on the athletics program’s various social media platforms, including Facebook (facebook.com/catamountsports), Twitter (@catamounts) and Instagram (@wcu_catamounts).

Ross

Lauren Ross ’10, won the regular season conference championship in its first year of existence.

Western Carolina fast-pitch softball began in 2006, hiring its first head coach in 2004 when Megan Smith took on the task of starting the program. In its first-ever game, WCU softball defeated Tennessee Tech 3-1 on Feb. 11, 2006, at the Georgia State Tournament. Lauren Ross ’10 hit the first homerun of the softball program in her first at-bat as a Catamount. Ross would go on to hold the school record for homeruns in a career, with 29 in her four-year career.

Also during the inaugural 2006 season, WCU won the Southern Conference regular-season title. Western Carolina has reached the SoCon semifinal day of the conference tournament twice, in 2007 and 2015. In the history of the program, the Catamounts have had 22 all-conference selections, three all-tournament, three all-region and two named to the Academic First Team All-District. Current senior first baseman Taylor Sigmon is a two-time Academic First Team All-District selection.

Western Carolina sponsored a slow-pitch softball program from 1978-1985. WCU was an AIAW Division II school for four of those years and transitioned to an NCAA Division I school during the 1981-82 school year. Betty Peele commissioned the Catamount softball squad all eight years and compiled a record of 190-103 for a .648 winning percentage. Also during the eight-year span, WCU played in three regional tournaments and three AIAW National Tournaments, finishing fifth in both national tournament appearances. The Cats additionally won two North Carolina State Invitational Championships, in 1982 and 1984.