COLLEGE SOFTBALL

Hanover Central grad Gibson hopes for improvement this season

2013-03-11T03:00:00Z Hanover Central grad Gibson hopes for improvement this seasonMatt Douthett matthew.douthett@nwi.com, (219) 933-4194 nwitimes.com

Tiffany Gibson can't wait for her second season.

With the way the 2012 season ended for the St. Joseph's College sophomore and her teammates, coming back even stronger this season is priority number one.

The Pumas made a run through the NCAA Division II World Series before losing a 2-1, 11-inning heartbreaker to UC-San Diego, knocking them out of the double-elimination tournament with a fifth place finish.

"It was very heartbreaking," said Gibson, a Hanover Central grad. "We wanted it all; we were so upset. We are definitely motivated. We worked hard all winter, giving 100 percent. We're hoping it shows."

Gibson battled the flu for a while of last season. She tried to play through it, but the lingering effects of the virus sapped her strength. That, combined with being a freshman who was adjusting to college pitching led to Gibson hitting just .225 overall. Defensively, she still excelled with a 1.000 fielding percentage.

"It got to the point where it affected my game," she said. "My playing suffered because of it. I don't want to make an excuse for it. I'm striving to get a higher batting average this season."

Her coach, Frank Wilkins, has his own high expectations for Gibson.

"I expect big things from her," he said. "She's worked hard this year in the weight room. As a coach, I can't ask for anything more.

"She's physically stronger and quicker. Every night after practice, she sticks around and runs stairs and the elliptical."

The Pumas were picked No. 7 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Preseason Poll for NCAA Division II teams.

The players agreed they can't let that ranking affect them. Gibson is concerned about helping her team win, meaning she's going to fulfill her goal to be a team leader.

"We have to send in goals every week to (Wilkins)," Gibson said. "I wanted to become more of a leader. I feel as a sophomore I'm able to push my team — push them to their potential."

With the team advancing so far in the 2012 postseason, the goal this season is quite simple: Win it all.

"I definitely want to do that," Gibson said. "You know (Wilkins) wants to do it. I just take it one step at a time. We can't focus on our record. We didn't expect to go that far. We didn't get ahead of ourselves and didn't worry about winning."

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