February 25, 2014

Grand Valley State University Picked To Win GLIAC Title In 2014 Coaches’ Preseason Softball Poll

 

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BAY CITY, Mich. -- The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) softball coaches selected Grand Valley State University to win the league title in the 2014 GLIAC Softballl Preseason Poll.

2014 GLIAC Softball
Preseason Coaches' Poll

 

 

 Place

School (1st votes)

Points

     

1.

Grand Valley State (6)

159

 
2.
Wayne St. (6)

156

 

3.

Ashland (2)

147
 

4.

Ferris State

122

 

5.

Ohio Dominican

113

 

6. 

Northwood

111

 

7.

Tiffin

101

 

8.

Findlay

98

 

9.

Saginaw Valley State

73

 

10.

Hillsdale
65

11.

Walsh

52
 

12. 

Lake Superior State

36


13. 

Malone

26
 

14. 

Lake Erie

16

 

The league’s head coaches participated in the balloting, but were not allowed to vote for their team.

    GVSU finished on top of the 2014  GLIAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll after a trip to the 2013 College World Series, where the Lakers were one of the final four teams standing in Salem, Virginia. GVSU was 46-9 last season and 24-2 in GLIAC play, winning the league’s regular season title before claiming the Midwest Regional championship by winning a best-of-three series at #1 Indianapolis.  The Lakers tallied 159 points and six first-place votes.

    Wayne State University grabbed second in the poll with 155 points and six first-place votes. WSU was the 2012 & 2013 GLIAC Tournament Champion and earned a spot in the NCAA D-II Midwest Regional Tournament last year. Ashland University placed third in the poll with 147 points and two first-place votes, followed by Ferris State University with 122 points to come in fourth.

    Ohio Dominican University collected 113 points, just edging out  Northwood University (111 points) for fifth place. Tiffin University grabbed seventh place and tallied 101 points, followed by the University of Findlay with 98 to finish in eighth place.

     Saginaw Valley University grabbed 73 points to finish the poll in ninth place. Hillsdale College tallied 65 points to finish 10th in the poll while Walsh University would finish 11th with 52 points. Lake Superior State University finished 12th with 36 points, followed by Malone University in 13th (26 points) and Lake Erie College in 14th with 16 points.

        This season, the GLIAC Softball Tournament will be played at Marathon Diamonds in Findlay, Ohio on May 2-4.

    For more information about GLIAC softball please visit the GLIAC softball web page at: www.gliac.org.

 

      The following are previews of all 14 GLIAC Softball teams for the 2014 season.

 

Grand Valley State Lakers
Head Coach:  Doug Woods
24th Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 1st



OVERVIEW: The 2014 Grand Valley State softball team returns after a trip to the 2013 College World Series, where the Lakers were one of the final four teams standing in Salem, Virginia. GVSU was 46-9 last season and 24-2 in GLIAC play, winning the league’s regular season title before claiming the Midwest Regional championship. Grand Valley State graduated three All-GLIAC First Team selections, but the Lakers return 10 letter winners and four starters from last year.

GVSU will have a mostly veteran crew, as the team’s expected starters at first base (Tonya Calkins), shortstop (Briauna Taylor), and third base (Miranda Cleary) are all seniors. Taylor, a two-time All-GLIAC First Team selection, hit .331 last season.  Cleary is a power-hitter at third, as the senior has racked up 37 career home runs and earning All-GLIAC First Team for the second time. Calkins is a career .313 hitter and owning a .981 career fielding percentage. Next to Calkins on the right side will be freshman Jenna Lenza. Starting behind the plate looks to be redshirt freshman Marianne Deppe, who missed last season due to an injury.

The lone starter returning in the outfield is Brittany Taylor, twin sister of shortstop Briauna, who will likely move from left field to center field. An All-GLIAC First Team and All-Region First Team choice in 2011. The corner outfielders are set to be a pair of sophomores: Chelsea Horvath in left field and McKenze Supernaw in right field.

Returning ace Sara Andrasik, the 2013 GLIAC “Freshman of the Year.” The 6’0" righthander, finishing 20-4 with a 1.59 ERA and recording 161 strikeouts in 149.2 innings pitched. Opponents hit just .182 off Andrasik. Looking to fill the second spot will be junior Lauren Gevaart (a 5’11" righty) and freshman Ellie Balbach (a 5’11" lefty), as both players are in their first seasons in Allendale.

Head coach Doug Woods enters his 24th season at the helm of the Lakers with a career record of 859-383-3, good for a .691 winning percentage. With Woods in the dugout, GVSU has won 35 or more games in 16 of the last 19 seasons. He has led the Lakers to both College World Series appearances (2002, 2013) and has earned the GLIAC Coach of the Year honor seven times, including each of the past two seasons.

 

Wayne State Warriors
Head Coach: Gary Bryce
33rd Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 2nd  


 

OVERVIEW: Wayne State lost just three seniors from last season’s GLIAC Tournament championships squad, including Stephanie Foreman, who finished sixth in program history with 129 RBI.  The Warriors have eight returning starters (including DP) along with two pitchers.  In addition to four freshmen, WSU also has five returning players who redshirted last year highlighted by P/UT Lyndsay Butler.

Senior Amanda Burnard and junior Emily Bryce shared the catching and first base duties in 2013, and look to do the same in 2014.  Second baseman Nikki Fulton may elect to have surgery and redshirt in 2014.  If Fulton is out of the lineup, Julie Ingratta could see considerable time at second baseman this spring.  Sophomores Gabby Williams (shortstop) and Jade McGarr (third baseman) each started all 52 games as rookie, with McGarr batting .369, while Williams played outstanding defensively.

Senior Logan White, who led the 2013 squad in batting with a .417 average and 12 stolen bases, moves back to left field with the return of Shannon Hilton to center field.  Hilton missed all of 2013 with an injury.  Right field is wide open with the graduation of Foreman.  Catherine Rayos started 45 games a year ago with both Hilton and Shelby Spano on the shelf.  Spano has also returned from injury and could be pushed for playing time by freshmen Allie Buchanan, Emily Cava and Devin Hentschel along with sophomore Ali Lince.

Wayne State returns two quality pitchers in junior Briana Lee and sophomore Mackenzie Boehler.  Lee went 12-13 a year ago with a team-leading 149 strikeouts.  She blanked GVSU twice on championship Sunday in leading the Warriors to their second consecutive GLIAC Tournament title.  Boehler, 17-5 with six shutouts, tossed two perfect games in her rookie season.  Butler only threw 18 innings last season before being injured but had 20 strikeouts to one walk.  Freshman Amy Campagnolo is also in the mix to see time in the circle.

Head coach Gary Bryce, who enters 2014 17th in NCAA history (all three divisions combined) with 1,071 victories, is starting his 33rd season guiding the Warrior softball program.  His all-time record of 1071-659-7 in 32 years, includes 18 NCAA tournament appearances by Wayne State.


Ashland Eagles
Head Coach: Sheilah Gulas
18th Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 3rd



OVERVIEW: The Eagles went 29-20 last season (17-8 GLIAC) and advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. AU loses three starters from last year’s team.

AU should be strong up the middle. Cayla Seidler is back for her fourth year as the starting second baseman. She hit .277 with four homers and 21 RBI. Jamie Weber returns for her second year as the starter at shortstop. She hit .298 last season and provided a reliable glove. The questions here come at the corners and catcher. Kourtney Yarnall will fill the catching spot, she played right field the last two seasons after beginning her career as a catcher. Jen Moore (.300, seven homers, 36 RBI), was second team All-GLIAC last season as a designated player. She’s penciled in as the starting first baseman. At third base, two sophomores, Bri Buckley and Kayla Prokopakis, are expected to see most of the action.

Taylor Menhart, an honorable mention All-GLIAC pick in 2013, returns as the starting center fielder. She hit .362 last season with three homers, 24 RBI and 99 total bases (ninth in the GLIAC).  Menhart was in the GLIAC’s Top 10 in five different categories. The Eagles have to decide how they want to fill the two spots on either side of Menhart. Senior Carly West will certainly figure in that equation. She was the starting left fielder a year ago and hit a career high .368. West was 11th in the conference in batting average. She’s also an exceptional defensive player.

The Eagles bring back their entire pitching staff from last season. Lefty Sarah Alley was 15-8 with a 3.01 ERA. She fanned a team-high 105 batters in 143.1 innings. Amber McDermott went 12-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 128.1 innings. Alley and McDermott combined to start 41 of AU’s 49 games. McKenna Galloway and Zoe Myers round out the staff.

Sheilah Gulas is 598-289 in 17 years at Ashland. She’s the program’s career leader in victories and has never experienced a losing season at AU. Over the last 27 years as a head coach at Allegheny, Wittenberg and Ashland, Gulas is 801-413. Gulas won her 800th game in the 2013 NCAA playoffs against Wayne State.

 

Ferris State Bulldogs
Head Coach: Sarah Rotta
1st Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 4th 
 

 

 

OVERVIEW: The Ferris State University softball program will feature a new look this season as first-year head coach Sarah Rotta takes the Bulldog helm and FSU faces the task of replacing seven seniors from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. The Bulldogs recorded a 29-16 overall record a year ago, marking the 10th consecutive year in which FSU has won at least 24 games, and closed the regular-season as the GLIAC runner-up with a 20-6 league mark. Ferris State also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history.

The Bulldogs return an all-conference shortstop in junior Michelle Tononi, who started all 45 games a season ago, but the rest of the infield will likely feature new faces. Rotta expects big contributions from junior college transfer Megan Galganski at first base along with freshman Sarah Johnson on the opposite corner among others. Rookie catcher Casey Bias figures to fill a leadership role behind the plate as the squad’s primary catcher with a handful of others also vying for time at various spots in the in field.

The bulk of the squad’s returning experience this season comes in the outfield where senior Alex Wittman headlines the Bulldogs’ most seasoned group. Wittman started 43 games in 2013, while sophomore Alyssa Smith was in the starting lineup 40 games. Also back are experienced sophomores Rachael Gabrielson and Taylor Verbic, who both played in 36 outings last spring, along with junior Jordan Maxwell.

Two-time all-conference and all-region honoree Amy Dunleavy will likely move into the starter’s role and be the leader on the mound as she takes over for departed  2013 GLIAC Pitcher of the Year Dana Bowler. One of two seniors on the team along with Wittman, Dunleavy finished with an 8-4 mark a year ago in 15 pitching appearances. The Bulldogs will rely on talented freshman Megan Hiler to work as another starter with relief coming from junior Cara DeLange and redshirt freshman Stacy Thompson, who both sat out last season due to injuries.

Rotta owns more than 300 career victories and has built highly-reputable and nationally-recognized programs at each of her previous stops.

 

Ohio Dominican Panthers
Head Coach: Marcella Vanlandingham
19th Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 5th 

 



OVERVIEW: With the loss of just one senior to graduation, Head Coach Marcella Vanlandingham is looking for depth and experience to be a big part of the 2014 softball campaign. Vanlandingham, entering her 19th year, is also the program’s all-time winningest coach, with 539 victories.Last year’s squad finished 23-28-1 overall and 17-9 in conference action.

Senior Caitlin Jividen will occupy one half of the middle infield at shortstop. Jividen earned GLIAC Second Team honors. She led the team in batting average (.348), doubles (12), and stolen bases with 11. In the field, she committed just 13 errors. Junior Taylor Thomas will make the transition from first base to third this season. She earned GLIAC Honorable Mention honors and started in 51 games. She posted a .977 fielding percentage. She had  team-highs in RBI (31), seven homeruns, and a .553 slugging percentage. Junior Alex Cribari will see the majority of time behind home plate this season. The junior earned GLIAC Second Team honors, while starting every game for the Panthers.

The duo of junior Kelsey Seeds  and sophomore Lizzy Weber  make up two-thirds of the returning outfield for the Panthers. Seeds saw some action at third, but played the majority of her games in left field. Seeds hit .240 in 146 plate appearances. She ended the 2013 campaign with 70 putouts and 11 assists while committing just four errors. Weber played in 49 games in center field where she will be expected to play again. Weber was a GLIAC Honorable Mention selection a year ago. Defensively, Weber committed no errors while totaling 61 putouts and two assists.

Juniors Rachael Stanzel and BrandisFishel return as the Panthers top two pitchers. Stanzel finished with a record of 15-16 and an earned run average of 2.62 in 38 appearances with 30 starts. She posted 27 complete games with four shutouts while striking out 87 batters. She earned GLIAC Second Team honors and was also named GLIAC Pitcher of the Week.Fishel ended last season with an 8-12 record and a 4.02 ERA. She had 37 strikeouts and pitched 14 complete games, including two shutouts

 

Northwood Timberwolves
Head Coach: Meaggan Pettipiece
8th Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 6th   

 

 

OVERVIEW: The Northwood softball team is looking to build on a fourth place finish in the GLIAC a year ago. The Timberwolves posted 28 overall wins last season and spent much of the year ranked among the top teams in the region.

The Timberwolves will be led this season by a pair of seniors in shortstop Stacey Klonowski and first baseman Sam Zaborowski, each of whom were named First Team All-GLIAC a year ago.  Klonowski batted .412 with nine home runs and 34 RBI’s, while Zaborowski hit .436 with six homers and 41 RBI’s. Redshirt freshman Ashley Lynn should take over second base, while senior Natalie Lampman appears to be ready to take over at third base. Junior Lindsey Obremski will be the team’s primary catcher after breaking through for a .295 average last season.

Sophomore Jessica Tostrud batted .341 as a freshman last season and will be one of Northwood’s primary outfielders this season. Centerfield will be up for grabs after the graduation of First Team All-GLIAC performer Rachel Hammer, with Malinda Smith appearing to be the main candidate for the position. Britney Merner, who mainly played second base a year ago, will make the move to the outfield for this season.  Other players who should see time in the outfield include Kesley Beck and Hayley D’Avilar.

Northwood returns its three top pitchers from a year ago, led by the duo of Maddison Sebald and Casey Brown. Sebald posted 15 wins, while Brown earned six victories. Sebald and Brown combined to start 38 of Northwood’s 47 games last season. Freshman Vanessa Ewing will also be looking for time in the circle this season.

Meaggan Pettipiece is now in her eighth season as the head coach of Northwood. She has posted a 159-158-1 record as the coach of the Timberwolves.

 

 

 

Tiffin Dragons
Head Coach: Jeff Nickerson
6th Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 7th

 

 

OVERVIEW: Tiffin University’s softball team will attempt to improve on their 22-26 record from 2013 with a potent hitting attack, strong defense, and numerous returning players playing in different positions. Overall the Dragons went 15-12 in conference play, good for 7th overall.
The Dragons return their top hitters in their infield. Second Team All Region and All Conference selection Cassandra Brown will man shortstop after hitting .390 last year. First Team All-GLIAC player Caitlin Houk (.385, 40 RBI) will share time at catcher with Kristin Robinson (.314), while Honorable Mention pick Payton Denman will move to third base after hitting .284 last season. Katie Toomey will likely man second base, while Madison Yanek and Kelsey Yaratch will split time at first base.

In the outfield, Second Team selection Kristin Prokopakis leads the way after hitting .357 last year. Jena King (.297) and Emily Shaw (.286) also bring experience back to the outfield. They will also be joined by talented transfer Tamara Link from Odessa College (Cal.).

Mound depth will be the top concern for the Dragons this season. Junior Madison Yanek and sophomore Kelsey Yaratch are Tiffin’s top options, with Yanek going 2-4 with a 1.88 ERA last season. Yaratch finished 3-4 with a 2.70 ERA. Freshman Taylor Spang could also be a factor as the season progresses.

Jeff Nickerson enters his sixth season with the Dragons. He has posted a 312-236 career mark, including a 145-108 mark (.573) at Tiffin University.

 

 

Findlay Oilers
Head Coach: Ron Ammons
12th Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 8th 


             
          

OVERVIEW:  The University of Findlay softball team finished with a 27-15 record last year and will return a total of nine players who racked up more than 20 starts in 2013.  The Oilers also went 13-12 in the GLIAC last season and qualified for the conference tournament.  They are hoping that experience will carry over into another successful campaign in 2014.
Senior second basemen Tori Allen returns to lead a talented group of infielders.  Allen was a first team all-conference performer for the Oilers last season when she hit .315 with 15 doubles and 29 runs batted in.  Also returning will be seniors Emily Reynolds and Jackie Messersmith, who will cover the shortstop and third base positions, respectively.  Reynolds hit .328 last season with seven home runs and 35 runs batted in while Messersmith is a real weapon at third base due to her strong throwing arm.  Reynolds also earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year for Findlay.

Seniors Courtney Dwyer and Anna Britvec will lead the Oilers outfielders and the two of them combined for a total of 65 starts last year.  Dwyer hit .270 on the year with 12 runs batted in while Britvec provided solid defense and speed in the outfield.

Senior Tawna Whited will return and anchor the Oilers pitching staff after being named honorable mention all-conference in 2013.  Whited finished with a 14-5 record last season and led the club with 98 strikeouts.  She also smacked three home runs and drove in 17 runs at the plate.  Sophomore Nicole Motuza will also be looking for a bigger role on the Oilers staff this season.  She finished with a 1-2 record last year in ten games played.  Sophomore Bonnie Zappitelli also returns after throwing 30.2 innings for Findlay in 2013.

Ron Ammons returns to lead the Oilers during his 12th season with the program.  Ammons has posted a 184-315 record during his tenure with the team.

 

Saginaw Valley State Cardinals
Head Coach: Todd Buckingham
2nd Season
2014 Preaseason Pick: 9th 


 

OVERVIEW:  The Saginaw Valley State University women’s softball team is returning this 2014 season after a 16-22 overall record in 2013.  They posted a 12-12 record in the GLIAC, finishing 9th overall.  There will be 11 letterwinners returning with 9 letterwinners lost, including three returning pitchers and only one lost.  Of the position players returning and lost there are seven of each.

Top infielder Lindsay Hayward will be returning to 1st base as a senior this season.  Hayward batted cleanup for the Cardinals, posting a batting average of .364 with 40 hits, 27 RBI’s and six homeruns in 2013, as she played in all 38 games.   Hayward also held a fielding percentage of .996, committing only one error on the season. Also returning to the infield is junior Amanda Kimes.  In 2013, Kimes competed in 34 games and had a batting average of .244 with 19 hits, 10 RBI’s and one homerun.  

Coming back this season to lead the outfield for Saginaw Valley are juniors Mackenzie Rousse and Jordan Randall.  Rousse finished 2013 playing 34 games with a .242 batting average, including 23 hits, 19 runs and 10 RBIs.  In the field, Rousse held a .965 fielding percentage, committing only two errors on the season.  Randall competed in 33 games for the Cardinals, hitting .306 batting with 26 hits, 16 runs and 12 RBI’s.   Randall finished the season with a .915 fielding percentage.

The Cardinals have three sophomores returning to the mound this season.  Chelsea Davis completed 2013 with a 4-2 record and an ERA of 4.73 while striking out 15.  Sarah Appold recorded an impressive 34 strikeouts, holding a 4.58 ERA and final record of 3-3.  Also returning for Saginaw Valley is Sarah Vrabel, who ended the season with a 2-2 record and a .3.28 ERA with 15 strikeouts.  Also returning for SVSU after a year off is senior Alexa Gehrls.  Gehrls last pitched in 2012, starting 22 games and posting a 2.33 ERA in 150.1 innings of work.  She had a 15-8 record with 17 complete games that year.

Head Coach Todd Buckingham will be returning for his 2nd season at Saginaw Valley State.  Buckingham holds a 16-22 overall record at SVSU and a 12-12 record in the GLIAC.

 

 

Hillsdale Chargers
Head Coach: Joe Abraham
3rd Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 10th 

 

OVERVIEW: The Charger softball team has high hopes for the 2014 season, with its entire pitching staff and many starters in the field coming back.

The lineup could pack some punch deep into the order, with sophomores Sarah Grunert and Ainsley Ellison returning after hitting better than .300 as freshmen in 2013. Grunert will be joined on the pitchers’ mound by junior Kate Ardrey and sophomore Sarah Klopfer to form a trio that has already logged plenty of innings for the team.

The outfield will be led by returning players Jessica Day, Courtney Day and Ellison, who provide a good mix of speed and power.

In the infield, All-GLIAC honorable mention third baseman Kristi Gordon returns, and is the team’s only senior. Junior Melissa Felkey will be joined by Grunert at first base, with sophomores Julia Kosco and Danielle Garceau figuring into the plans as well. Freshmen Jessica Knepper and Cassie Asselta join the team behind the plate, while freshman Bekah Kastning could make an immediate impact at shortstop.

Entering his third season at the helm for the Chargers, Joe Abraham led Hillsdale to a 11-21 record in the 2013 campaign. Abraham’s record at Hillsdale is 36-55.

 

 

Walsh Cavaliers
Head Coach: Jaime Porter
3rd Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 11th  

 

 

OVERVIEW: Walsh returns eight letter winners for veteran head coach Jaime Porter (73-55, 3 yrs.). The Cavs finished 18-20 overall last year, and in 8-16 (11th) in their first season in the GLIAC.  This spring, they are eligible for post season play after receiving full NCAA ll membership. The Cavs will have a few holes to fill, but Porter is confident in her returning veterans, and incoming class of freshmen and transfers.

Plenty of new faces will be around the infield. Firstbase is up for grabs, with freshmen Jordan Monnot  and Quartni Whited being the frontrunners. Returnee Anna Fach, and newcomer Abby Reusser will split time at second base. Fach hit .257 last year in 35 games, at second and shortstop. Fach is also getting acclimated to third base, and could end up seeing most of the action at the hot corner if the transition goes well. Marissa Bondoni and transfer Lexi Sheets will provide depth. Bondoni hit .286 last year, playing first base when she was not in the circle. Youngstown State University transfer Sam Troxell is expected to start at shortstop, with Reusser and Jenna Head (Fr., Mantua, OH/Crestwood) providing depth.

The Cavs return starting leftfielder Chelsy Testa, and starting centerfielder Eryn Simon. Testa hit a team-leading .321, and also led the team with 10 doubles. She was also second with 16 RBI, and second in hits with 35. Simon hit .286, with six doubles, two triples and a team-best three homeruns and 17 RBI. Look for Anna Anderson, Reagan Rito and Nikki Newman to push the veterans and battle for the open spot in the outfield.
Senior Rachel Dedinsky  will get the nod behind the plate. She started 14 games last year. The position is deep, with transfer Presley Destro and freshman Jo Nicodemus.

The Cavs return starter Casi Rohr and Marissa Bondoni. Rohr led the staff in starts (17), appearances (20), innings pitched (127), and strikeouts (130), while earning second-team All-GLIAC honors. She finished 7-11 with a 1.93 ERA. Bondoni was tough to score on, as her 1.82 ERA attests to. She finished 3-1 in 15 games, with five starts and three complete games. The staff becomes very deep, and talented, with the additions of Maggie Murphy and Quartni Whited.


Lake Superior State Lakers
Head Coach: Lori Shimasaki
4th Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 12th 


 

OVERVIEW: Lake Superior State potentially returns its entire starting lineup from last year’s squad, which finished 7-22 overall and 5-21 in the GLIAC. The Lakers will be led by seniors Haleigh Edgar (second base), Heather Cuthrell (outfield), Dani Reveley (shortstop) and Felicia Gingrich (pitcher).

LSSU’s veteran infield includes Edgar and Reveley anchoring the middle, and a combination of players on the corners. The Lakers’ top-returning hitters are all infielders, including utility player Amanda Maxon (.341), first/third baseman Gingrich (.329) and Reveley (.309). Maxon totaled five home runs and a team-leading 16 RBI last season. Junior catcher/third baseman Kirsten Thompson and Gingrich followed with 14 RBI each.

Cuthrell and junior Alyssa Avila are LSSU’s top-returning outfielders. Avila had a .958 fielding average.

On the mound, Gingrich was 4-12 with a 4.00 ERA in 2013. Junior Brandi Anderson finished 1-8 with a 5.28 ERA, and sophomore Jade Stein was 0-2. All three will be contending for starting roles in 2014.

Fourth-year coach Lori Shimasaki has a Lake Superior State University career record of 20-81 overall, 12-72 in the GLIAC.


Malone Pioneers
Head Coach: Tenequa Martin
1st Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 13th  

 

 

OVERVIEW: The Malone University softball team heads into the 2014 season coming off an 8-29 campaign in 2013. The Pioneers struggles were most revealing in GLIAC play, where they finished with a 2-23 conference record. Malone returns only five players from last year’s squad.

First-year head coach Tenequa Martin takes over the program after serving as head coach at Greenville College in Illinois for the past two seasons. At Greenville, Martin coached eight all-conference players, nine academic all-conference honorees and five NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) Scholar-Athletes.  She also led the Panthers to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Postseason Tournament in 2012.

The strength of the team may rest in the infield. Sophomore shortstop Alexa Holztrager highlights the unit after leading Malone in virtually every offensive category last season en route to Honorable Mention All-GLIAC honors. As a freshman, she batted .337 with seven doubles, four home runs and 17 runs batted in while playing a solid shortstop. Infielder Desi Hengoed is also in the mix after sitting outs all of 2013. As a freshman in 2012, Hengoed, then known as Desi Givens, hit .477 with 16 doubles, four home runs, and a team-best 28 runs batted in. She was named an NCCAA All-American, as well as the OIC and ICAA Freshman of the Year. Sophomore Emily Isla will also see time in the infield after enjoying a solid freshman campaign.

In the outfield, Malone returns senior Katy Carr and converted infielder and sophomore Marionna Cane. Martin will look for freshmen to fill out the rest of the group.

Junior Stephanie Byrne is the top returning pitcher for Malone. She was the most consistent pitcher for Malone in 2013, posting a 1.80 era and a 2-0 record in limited time in the circle. In 23 and 1/3 innings pitched, Byrne struck out 17 hitters while walking only two. Martin has cited junior transfer from Cuyahoga Community College, Jillian Coyle, as another player who will eat a lot of innings on the rubber for Malone.

 

Lake Erie Storm
Head Coach: Stephanie Smith
1st Season
2014 Preseason Pick: 14th 



 

OVERVIEW: Lake Erie heads into the 2014 season off a down year. The Storm were outscored, 340-46, en route to posting a 2-36 record in 2013. LEC went 0-26 in GLIAC play. New head coach Stephanie Smith will be at the helm in 2014. Smith comes to Lake Erie after a highly successful three-year stint (2011-13) as an assistant at Thiel (Pa.). The 2014 Storm roster includes eight returnees and eight newcomers.

Freshmen catchers Elizabeth Karako and Nicole Grimmett will handle the pitching staff. Around the horn from third to first will be Kyleah Burton-Smiles, Kate-Lynn Urgo, Hannah Francis and Jennifer Gratz. Darrian Yanek – a freshman from Youngstown, Ohio – will likely get time at both second and third and could work her way into the mix. Gratz is the veteran of the infield unit. She’s a senior who batted .281 (27-of-96) with a team-high six doubles a year ago. Karako is expected to provide a power bat from her catcher position, and both she and Grimmett are solid defenders.

Amber Dowen, Maddi Klemp and Courtney Hawk figure to log the most time at left, center and right field, respectively. Klemp, a senior and superior defensive outfielder, batted .268 (15-of-56) in 2013. She missed the back half of the season due to injury.

Duties in the circle will be primarily split between sophomore Katarina Davis and freshman Hannah Shevenell. Davis is a lefthander who posted an 8.74 ERA in 73-2/3 innings as a freshman. Shevenell is a right-hander and a two-way player with upside. She was a two-time conference pitcher of the year in high school.

Stephanie Smith is in her first year at LEC. Smith was announced as the head coach of the Lake Erie College softball program in July of 2013.  She is the 14th head coach in Storm history. Smith comes to Lake Erie after serving as the assistant coach at her alma mater, Thiel College, for the past three seasons.  With the Tomcats, she coached eight players who earned all-conference honors and helped guide the team to second-place finishes in both the regular season and conference tournament in 2012.
 

OVERVIEW: The 2012 season was one of ups and downs for the Tiffin University softball team.  The Dragons roared out to an 8-1 start before winning just three of its next 16 games.  TU fired back with 14 wins in the next 20 games.  Tiffin finished 17-15 in the GLIAC and 27-25 overall and qualified for the GLIAC Tournament for the second year. It's almost a brand new look in 2013 as the Dragons have four starters and seven letterwinners back out of 18 players.
INFIELD:  In the infield, Second Team All-GLIAC player Payton Denman returns after hitting .292, while Emily Shaw also returns to play shortstop after hitting .264 and scoring 16 runs. Lesy Herbert and All-GLIAC player Caitlin Houk will split time at catcher. Houk hit .298 with 30 RBI while Herbert batted .237 with 23 RBI. Newcomers Brianna Gamm (second base) and Madison Yanek (third base) also bring strong hitting to the squad.
OUTFIELD: In the outfield, Katie Toomey returns after playing in 31 games last season, but youth will be served at the other spots. Kristin Prokopakis will man centerfield, while Jena King and Kasie Sepeda will also see much action.
PITCHING: On the mound, senior Amber Young returns after going 12-13 with a 2.93 ERA in 2012. She also had 162 strikeouts and set a new single game record last year with 22 strikeouts in a game. She will be joined by a talented trio of hurlers in Madison Yanek, Kimberlee Hetrick, and Kelsey Yaratch.
COACHING: Jeff Nickerson enters his fifth year with Tiffin. He has an overall record of 290-210 and a TU record of 124-82.
 

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