Walters State will be looking to avenge a third-place finish in the Region VII Softball Tournament last year as they take the softball field for the 2020 season.

It won’t be an easy task as the Lady Senators will take on multiple nationally ranked teams throughout the year in tournaments and in the conference. While Walters State was not ranked in the preseason poll, they did receive a vote.

“Every year, our goal is to get to the national tournament in Utah,” Walters State coach Larry Sauceman said. “They know that’s the goal for every year. Hopefully, our team can do some big stuff and come together and get to go.”

Walters State is coming off a 2018-2019 season that saw them finish the year 35-19 overall and 22-9 in conference play. The Lady Senators finished second in the conference and made it to the loser’s bracket final before falling to Volunteer State.

Trying to get out of the cold Tennessee weather in the early months of the year, Walters State will be on the road for the first month of the season. The season starts on Feb. 2 with two games in South Carolina against Spartanburg Methodist. Then, the Lady Senators head to Alabama for four games in Dotham and four games in Gulf Shores.

“You see a lot of Division I schools play a lot of cupcakes early to build up their confidence, but we’re not doing that at all,” Sauceman said. “It’s going to be a challenging schedule. It’s going to be a tough first month of the season. We travel to get away from the weather.

“It’s an advantage for them right now to be outside in the warm weather while it’s cold here, and we’re stuck in the cages doing work. The only advantage is if it is cold in Alabama, we’ll be ready for that.”

Conference play begins for the Lady Senators after the games in Gulf Shores with the competition only getting tougher. Walters State travels to No. 14-ranked Chattanooga State beginning on Feb. 28.

After four games with the Tigers, Walters State finally makes their home debut on March 6 for four conference games with Jackson State. As is always the case, the conference run will be difficult for the Lady Senators, who are aiming for their fourth regular season title and fourth conference championship.

“Chattanooga is going to be at the top of the league,” Sauceman said. “They’re loaded. Volunteer is OK, so they will be up there as well. For the other teams, from year to year, you’re really not sure. It depends on who they have. If they come up with some pitching, then they have a chance.”

Conference play runs through the month of April, where the Lady Senators will conclude their season with four games at Motlow State from April 24-25. Then, they will head to Gallatin, Tenn. for the Region VII Tournament.

The Lady Senators doubleheader opener at Spartanburg Methodist on Feb. 2 is set for a 1 p.m first pitch.

“Nothing is going to be easy this year,” Sauceman said. “It’s going to be tough. The schedule is going to be all they want, but I am excited to get going and get the season started.”