The Sam Houston State softball team wrapped up a successful fall practice season last week in preparation for defending its Southland Conference regular-season and tournament championships this spring.

The Bearkats went 7-1 against a variety of junior colleges and Division I opponents with the only loss coming to Mississippi State in an exhibition in Spring earlier this month.

Sam Houston State had a very productive fall camp at the plate, hitting .388 as a team. The Bearkats also should some power with 12 home runs, 20 doubles, seven triples and 85 runs scored.

Offensively, the team’s goal was to have quality at bats 60 percent of its plate appearances this fall, and head coach Garrett Valis said the squad reached it. The second-year head coach also was pleased with the development of the newcomers and how well they have blended in with the returners.

“I like the way we have handled the fall season so far. We started very early so that was a change for a lot of our returners and overall, it’s been a strong start to the year,” Valis said. “I think the returners have grown and continue to develop which is what we are about. We want to recruit talented athletes and continue to develop them through their career.

“So much of the credit goes to the kids for the work they put in when no one is watching. Our newcomers have adapted well to our expectations and will certainly bring a level of athleticism that with our returners will be the deepest group we have had in my time here.”

Sam Houston State also had a solid fall season in the circle. The pitching staff tossed 61 innings and posted a team earned run average of 1.37. The pitchers also held opposing batters to a batting average of .158.

“I thought our pitching staff competed well facing opposing batters for the first time this fall,” new assistant coach Tess Soefje said. “Being new, they are adjusting well to how I do things and how I call a game. Having a staff of five different arms allows us to mix things up, which I think will help us this spring. I am really excited about the options we have in the circle.”

Valis is also pleased with the progress he has seen with the players in their strength and conditioning program this fall.

“Our strength program has been a huge plus for us over the years,” Valis said. “Coach Chance (Marek) is always pushing our athletes and with the speed and power program he has going right now, I only see us improving. He does a tremendous job with our athletes and the effort has been a highlight for us.”