The countdown for the first official games of Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s softball team has started.
Coach Nicole Dufour confirmed the first official tournament in the schedule will take place in late January 2021. The team will be on the road for three days.
“We actually open up with games that count towards our win-loss record at a tournament that’s going to take place in Gregory Portland near Corpus Christi,” Dufour said. “We will be playing some other NAIA teams.”
Dufour referred to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
The team will have a complete full schedule for its debut season in spring 2021. The Jaguars will have conference and non-conference games along with two tournaments in their schedule. This can change, however, depending on how the coronavirus pandemic evolves in the coming months.
“We just want to make sure that COVID is going to allow us to play teams outside our conference and that stays the same before we officially release our schedule,” Dufour said.
The Jaguars inaugural roster is set and ready to go for the spring. The team has 22 players with half of them incoming freshmen. Several are natives of San Antonio and surrounding areas.
Psychology freshman Natalia Guajardo is a San Antonio native who plays middle infield. “I decided I wanted to come to A&M-SA because of the opportunity to be part of the first year intercollegiate softball team,” Guajardo said.
For centerfield Vanessa Garces, a junior transfer from Coastal Bend College majoring in criminology, San Antonio was always a preferred destination. “I’ve always liked the San Antonio area and wanted to see more of it, so getting an offer to play here was just perfect,” Garces said.
In addition, Dufour also confirmed they have four verbal commits for next year’s team who have already been recruited.
Dufour says helping the student-athletes to get acclimated to life on campus, getting to know the culture, all while dealing with coronavirus pandemic, has been of utmost importance.
“Getting them to understand the ins and outs of the university while also being very aware of COVID and trying to keep them safe as well has also been a top priority,” Dufour said.
During the fall, the team is going to be practicing on the softball field that’s being built on the south side of campus. In fact, Dufour and her team were hoping to start their practices on the week of Sep. 21, but the builder delayed the release of the field.
Even though the school semester started in August, NAIA regulations prevented all teams from practicing before September.
Dufour acknowledged that, more than likely, the field will not have an exterior fence until the spring. Nevertheless, she is determined to carry out the team’s practices in the afternoon and use all the school’s resources at her disposal.
“Our strength and conditioning will take place out by the fountain, by the workout area; we’re going to kind of utilize any open space to do our morning strength and conditioning,” Dufour said.
The first official practice was set to be on Oct. 30 on the rec grass field near Patriots’ Casa. All players had to be tested for COVID-19 and had to wait for their results to be clear for practice. They are eager and ready to start their preparation for their spring debut.
“I’m really looking forward to finally being on the field again,” Garces said. “it’s been six or seven months, so I’m excited about that and definitely excited to be on the field with all my new teammates and see how well we all mesh together.”
The Jaguars will have a scrimmage against Trinity University in January on Trinity’s home field before heading to Corpus Christi for their official debut.