Ky. - In order for the Northern Kentucky University softball team
to make its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II World
Series, the Norse must find replacements for several key performers
from last season’s record-setting 55-2 team.
The Norse must
replace NCAA Division II National Player of the Year Krystal Lewallen,
NKU’s two-time All-American pitcher who transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette
following the season. Lewallen posted a 32-1 record with a NCAA
Division II-leading 0.36 earned run average in 2005, and she won
a school-record 79 games in three seasons at NKU.
NKU also graduated
All-American center fielder Stephanie Leimbach (the school’s
all-time leader in hits and runs scored), first baseman Angie Lindeman
(the school’s all-time leader in runs batted in), All-Great
Lakes Valley Conference catcher Megan Owens, All-GLVC pitcher Emily
Breitholle and starting third baseman Sara Becker.
The 55 consecutive
wins posted by last year’s team are the most in collegiate
softball history. NKU won two games at the NCAA Division II World
Series at Salem, Va., but consecutive losses to Lynn (Fla.) and
Kennesaw State ended the Norse’s bid for a national championship.
NKU is now
putting last season’s accomplishments behind it and focusing
on establishing itself this season.
a new season,” head coach Kathy Stewart said. “We always
talk about each game we play being an opportunity to prove ourselves,
regardless of our record.
team has a tremendous opportunity to make a name for themselves
versus living in the shadow of last year’s team. If the team
does feel pressure due to us being a big game for our opponents,
I’m sure they’ll give everything they have or, as we
say, leave it all on the field.”
NKU was picked
to finish second in the GLVC preseason poll behind Southern Illinois
at Edwardsville. The Norse were a perfect 16-0 in the conference
last season and also captured the GLVC Tournament for the first
time in history.
The Norse return
a solid group of experienced players from last season, primarily
the team’s three captains: Ricki Rothbauer, Becky Napier and
hit .352 in 2005
a senior second baseman, was named first team All-American last
season after batting .394 and compiling nine triples, 23 RBI and
16 stolen bases. Rothbauer also received first team All-GLVC and
All-Region honors for her performance.
Napier, a junior
who started 56 games last season, batted .356 with 38 RBI and 13
doubles. She received first team All-GLVC accolades as a shortstop
a senior making a move from the outfield to shortstop this year,
finished with a .352 batting average last season. She added four
home runs and 19 RBI while earning second team All-GLVC honors.
three captains) are all coming off career seasons,” Stewart
said. “We are expecting another great year from (Rothbauer).
Becky Napier will be in the starting lineup once she has been released
from her shoulder surgery she had in the fall. She is a tremendous
all-around player. Rachele Vogelpohl is a versatile player who had
a very good offensive year last year, and we’re expecting
the same from her this year.”
to the starting lineup for the Norse is sophomore catcher Sarah
King. King started all 57 games last season in the outfield and
finished with a .311 batting average while collecting two home runs
and a team-leading 45 RBI.
Kara Lorenz and left fielder Heather Cotner will see action in the
starting lineup in their senior seasons for NKU. Lorenz saw action
in 39 games last season, starting three times, while Cotner batted
.288 in 57 games a year ago.
strength will be the experience of our returning players,”
Stewart said, “but our weakness is the inexperience of our
two freshmen pitchers.”
batted .356 with 13 doubles
pitchers are Michelle Critchelow and Candace White. Critchelow,
a graduate of Grayson County, was named the 2005 Kentucky Miss Softball
after recording more than 1,000 career strikeouts.
a freshman first baseman and graduate from Canal Winchester (Ohio),
batted .503 in high school and was named All-Mid-State League three
times. She may also see time on the mound this season.
Coode and Cara Parker will also start. Coode, who will see action
in right field, batted .432 for DuPont Manual High School last season
while driving in 35 runs and finishing with a .690 slugging percentage.
She was named second team All-Region.
Parker, a graduate
of Kings High School, earned All-Fort Ancient Valley Conference
honors last season and will start at third base.
as the designated hitter will be freshman Shatona Campbell, a graduate
of Fairfield High School. She set single-season records at Fairfield
with 12 home runs and 50 hits while finishing with a .491 batting
average. Campbell was named first team All-Greater Miami Conference,
first team All-City and second team All-Ohio in 2005.
sophomore Jami Patton and freshmen Jessica Feldhaus, Segille Melton
and Jenny Weis will be expected to be a factor for the Norse when
given the opportunities.
be competitive,” Stewart said. “We’ll be tested
early. We’ll be starting at least three freshmen in addition
to our freshmen pitchers, and therefore, we feel we’ll improve
as the season goes on. Our goal is to win every game. We expect
NKU opens its
season Feb. 10 against West Florida and Delta State in the North
Alabama Tournament in Florence, Ala. The Norse will host a doubleheader
against Georgetown (Ky.) Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Frank Ignatius
Grein Softball Field.
The GLVC tournament
will take place May 5-7 in East Peoria, Ill.
NKU is ranked
No. 15 nationally in the Division II poll.
HERE FOR SCHEDULE
HERE FOR ROSTER