The Columbus State softball season ended too soon last year, with a pair of losses in regionals.
But they begin their quest to get back there and further on Saturday as part of the Peach Belt Conference/Sunshine State Conference Challenge. The Cougars face Lynn at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, St. Leo at 4:00 p.m., then St. Leo again at 9:00 a.m. Sunday and Rollins at 2:00 p.m.
Head coach Brad Huskisson has a veteran group returning, with five seniors and numerous returning players.
"The experience factor has been huge for practices," Huskisson said. "When it comes to game time, just experience of understanding the rivalries, the conferences, the conference teams and the rivalries of those out-of-conference games, that's going to be something we haven't had."
One senior is first baseman Morgan Staffins, who figures to be a fixture in the middle of Huskisson's lineup after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL.
"I just think we're going to have a really good pitching staff this year," Staffins said. "I think our lineup is definitely one of the strongest lineups in the country."
That pitching staff is anchored by junior Taylor Turner, 10-6 with a 1.39 ERA last season, and fellow junior Kristen Carr, 7-2 in 17 appearances with 67 strikeouts in 65 innings.
After the PBC/SSC Challenge, CSU opens play at Cougar Field with the Cougar Classic on Feb. 7 against King.