MORAGA, Calif. -- Early morning fog couldn't deter the Saint Mary's softball team, as the 2013 Gaels took the field together for their first team practice Tuesday morning at Cottrell Field.
Head coach Jessica Hanaseth-Rodgers and assistant coach Roni Sparrey led the Gaels through morning drills, as the sun eventually broke through and provided a perfect backdrop to begin preparations for the season.
"There's a lot of athleticism out there," Hanaseth-Rodgers said. "There's still a lot of questions as to who will fall where, but now's the time where it's up to them to figure out where they want to play because that'll let me know, practice-wise."
Expectations remain high for Saint Mary's despite an influx of new talent. The Gaels began practice with 10 true freshmen on the roster, and they'll be tasked with defending a 2012 Pacific Coast Softball Conference Coastal Division title that was Saint Mary's second in three years.
"They've got to get their legs under them, get their arms going and they really have to check in mentally. That's the biggest thing," Hanaseth-Rodgers said.
The Gaels do return plenty of accomplished talent, led by 2012 PCSC Coastal Division Pitcher of the Year Jessica Lemmon. Other returning all-conference players include outfielder Brittany Sabatini and infielder Christine Torrise.
Game action gets underway on Feb. 7 when Saint Mary's travels to Hawaii to take part in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic. The home opener takes place Feb. 16 when the Gaels welcome Sacramento State for a doubleheader.