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California dreaming: Nolan hoping for hot start

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Sunshine, sandy beaches, waves crashing onto shore and the sound of seagulls are a distance memory for Beth Nolan.
For now, the California girl has to deal with wind and cold temperatures as she practices with the East Carolina softball team. So just how does a California girl handle frigid conditions for up to four hours a day?
Nolan is used to the warmer climate. She’s originally from Florida. Her family then headed west. Though it’s far from home, Nolan is happy she chose ECU.
Nolan, who is majoring in health education and promotion, is becoming a fixture in the outfield for the Lady Pirates. She started 53 games in right field and 57 overall in the team’s 61 games last year.
She also started 53 games at right field her freshman season. Nolan played in 69 games overall, starting 61 of them.
Nolan was the among team leaders in a handful of offensive categories last year. She hit three home runs, drove in 22 RBIs, scored 42 runs and hit .253 on the season.
Her production wasn’t quite as high as her freshman season when she banged out five home runs and 30 RBIs. However, Nolan did see her batting average rise 57 points after hitting .196 in her first year of college softball.
Nolan, the daughter of Brian and Becky Nolan, seemed to raise her game to another level during Conference USA games. In those contests Nolan led the Lady Pirates in batting average (.324), hits (24), doubles (seven), home runs (two), RBIs (11) and total bases (37).
A standout volleyball and basketball player as well as softball in high school, Nolan uses that athleticism to her advantage while patrolling the outfield. She’s committed just four errors over her first two seasons as Nolan has a .952 career fielding percentage.
Nolan is looking to step up her game offensively and defensively this year, especially since she’ll be one of the leaders.
She admitted that being one of a few upper classmen can put some added stress on a player.
With such a young team, Nolan isn’t sure what to expect out of her club.
Nolan said that playing the likes of Tennessee and Michigan will help her team in the long run.
After so many long and grueling practices, Nolan is ready to put on the uniform, step into the batter’s box and face some competition. She’ll get that chance Feb. 9 when the Lady Pirates open the season against Tennessee, which took third in the College World Series last year, in the Carolina Classic.
The Lady Pirates will play their first home game Feb. 23. Nolan is hoping fans will show up to help support ECU all season.