The Jackrabbit women are coming off another NCAA Tournament bid and are hungry to get there for the sixth season in a row. Like every year they lost a few key players, but the Rabbits are returning the likes of Megan Waytashek, Tara Heiser, and hannah Strop. They have also reloaded with several key freshmen that include Kerry Young and Chynna Stevens.
This years Jackrabbits will have to replace three great leaders in Ashley Eide, Leah Dietel, and Katie Lingle. However when you make the NCAA Tournament five years in a row your team has experience with underclassmen. Coach Aaron Johnston's squad will return eight upperclassmen and mix in a star studded sophomore and freshman group.
"Any of those eight could start for us at different points throughout the year. Any of those eight could go in and finish a big game at a crucial time. It's fun to see that kind of experience out there. Our young players have fit in really nicely. Our sophomore and freshman group, all six of them, could find time throughout the year. It has been a good mix and we're excited to get it going," SDSU Head Coach Aaron Johnston said.
They will miss Eide's 27.3 PPG, but they are returning their leading scoring in Megan Waytashek. The Jackrabbits will also get fifth year senior Steph Paulch back, who sat out last season due to injury. The biggest shoes to fill will be from the biggest players in the post.
"All Three of our freshman are six foot or taller. We also have Megan Stuart and Mariah Clarin that not necessarily take over what Katie and Leah did, but they also bring us good height and inside game," SDSU Junior Gabby Boever said.
That height helped SDSU with their tough non-conference schedule last season that included wins over Nebraska and Georgetown. This year South Dakota State has stacked their schedule again with games against Stanford, TCU, and rematches with Georgetown and Penn State
"Our non-conference games are fun games that bring in the crowds, but they are also very important. We still look to them as winnable games that we need to get in order to get a better seed in the tournament. That will make our first round game a little easier for us," SDSU Sophomore Chloe Cornemann said.
The women hosted Bemidji St. for an exhibition game this afternoon and won by a score of 100-57. They will host another friendly against MSU-Mankato this Friday before opening their season at BYU on November 8th.