The month-long search for a replacement for Megan Smith has finally come to an end. Christine Hornak has been named the new head coach of the Catamount softball team. Hornak is a former assistant coach for the Virginia Tech Hokies, where she helped the Hokies get to the ACC Championship and to the NCAA Regional. Hornak took over for Megan Smith, who resigned last month to take an assistant coaching job at LSU. Smith coached the Cats to a 41-and-20 overall record, including a regular season Southern Conference Championship in their inaugural season. Sophomore catcher Allyson McCubbins has high expectations for this season’s Catamount softball team. She believes that Hornak is a good fit for the Western Carolina softball program and can guide the team far into the post-season. “I like the fact that we have Hornak coaching us. She gave me a wonderful first impression during our interview process and I believe she has what it takes to guide us to the next level,” stated McCubbins. Megan Smith’s regular season SoCon Champions had a sudden halt to their season in the post-season. The Catamounts were eliminated from the Southern Conference Tournament against arch nemesis Appalachian State. McCubbins believes that Hornak’s aggressiveness can help aide the Cats to a better post-season run this year. “In this conference any team can beat any other team on a given day. The Southern Conference is very competitive. Losing in the first round of the tournament last year felt bad because I knew we could have done so much better. Hornak’s aggression and passion for the game will be needed to make it further this season,” stated McCubbins. While at Virginia Tech, Hornak was in charge of the Hokies’ pitching staff. Under Hornak’s tutelage, Hokie pitcher Angela Tincher became the first softball All-American in Virginia Tech history. At Western, the Catamounts come back fully equipped with two of their star pitchers returning from last season’s squad. Sophomore Mendy McKenzie returns, looking to retain her defending Southern Conference Pitcher-of-the-Year title that she won last season. McKenzie had a 2.28 ERA with a 22-and-seven record and finished the season with 210 total strikeouts. Also returning is the reigning SoCon Freshman-of-the-Year Jenny Jackson, who finished with a 15-and-six overall record and a 2.27 ERA. In order for the Catamounts to climb the ladder of success this season, McCubbins feels that it is going to take a lot of will and determination from the team. “In order for us to win the Conference Championship again, we’re going to have to just play our game again. We’ll have to stay together as a team and all play to our abilities. Coach Hornak feels that she can take us to the next level and bring us further in the SoCon tournament and hopefully to the NCAA tournament one day” stated the Poquoson, Va. native.The Catamount softball team returns to action in the spring, and with Hornak taking over the realm as head coach, the softball team looks to be in good hands. The success of the softball program will continue to get bigger and better as Hornak takes control.