Campbell is expected to provide offense for NKU in 2007. As
a freshman, Campbell clubbed five home runs and batted .250.
Anderson, NKU Sports Information
Ky. - Ask any athlete and they'll tell you the key to a team’s
success is a strong core and a good work ethic. Ask Northern Kentucky
University softball coach Kathy Stewart, and she'll tell you that
her 2007 squad has both.
The core of
the squad is the 15 freshmen and sophomores who dominate the roster.
“This is probably the youngest team I've ever coached,”
Stewart said of a team that includes just one senior, “but
this team has a lot of softball skill. They're a very versatile
bunch that we can use a lot of different ways.”
After the loss
of All-Americans Ricki Rothbauer and Sarah King, All-GLVC standout
Heather Cotner and two other seniors - a group which combined for
more than half of NKU's runs scored and hit a combined .330 in 2006
- Stewart must look to her team's youth to step up this year.
replace them,” she said of her outgoing class. But Stewart
points to Shatona Campbell and Amanda Smith as two players she expects
to step up offensively.
Smith made an impact in 2006 as well. Campbell, who hit .250 last
year, led all returning players with five home runs as a freshman.
“Offensively, she's going to be a real spark for us,”
Stewart said of the Fairfield, Ohio, native. “She's a solid
defender for us as well, and she'll likely see some significant
time in right field.”
into a role no one expected last season when she took to the circle
and led the Norse with a 24-12 record and a 2.27 ERA in 46 appearances.
On top of that, she was stellar at the plate, hitting .317 with
32 RBI and 22 runs scored.
a tremendous year for us in 2006,” Stewart said. “She
will pitch for us again this year, and when she's not pitching she'll
be at first base.” Smith is the only returning Norse who started
all 62 games last season.
returns to the Norse as the team's only senior and only upperclassman.
The Lexington native looks to rebound from an injury-shortened season
in which she saw action in just 12 games. Stewart recognizes the
need for her leadership both on and off the field.
has stepped up in all regards. She leads by example with her work
ethic, dedication, perseverance and positive attitude. She's her
teammates' biggest fan and harshest critic,” Stewart said.
“She's taught this team what being an NKU softball student-athlete
is all about.”
Smith set a Norse freshman record in 2006 by winning 24 games.
Smith is also an outstanding hitter who batted .317 with 32
runs batted in.
to return to her shortstop post this season, where she hit .356
with 38 RBI during the 2005 campaign, a season that saw the Norse
go an unprecedented 55-2.
Weis returns to the Norse and will assume catching duties, something
she picked up mid-way through the 2006 season. “Jenny got
her chance when our regular catcher went out with an injury, and
she really proved herself in that time,” Stewart said, “so
much so that we moved our original catcher to the outfield when
she came back in order to keep Weis behind the plate.”
Weis is also
a solid presence at the plate, leading all returnees with a .403
on-base percentage in 67 plate appearances last season.
Katybeth Coode also returns for the Norse after a solid season,
hitting .321 with 17 RBI while rotating between first base and designated
player. The Louisville native will play first base when Smith is
Third baseman Cara
Parker will anchor the left side of the infield for the second straight
year. The Maineville, Ohio native returns to the squad after hitting .240
with a team and conference high three sacrifice flies. Parker returns
after posting a .927 fielding percentage as a freshman in the hot
could see her role expanded greatly this year. The sophomore appeared
in 35 games last season, primarily as a pinch runner and defensive
also saw limited time in 2006, appearing in just 18 games. But,
as Stewart points out, the bulk of those were when it really counted.
“Segille played first base for us during the Great Lakes Regional
last season, having not seen a lot of time all year,” said
rounds out the eight-member sophomore class. White will be a part
of a pitching rotation that posted a 3.05 ERA and recorded eight
shutouts in 2006.
Work ethic is
a strength of her incoming class that Stewart takes pride in. “We
created a standard five years ago for success, and it's an expectation
of our team each year. These freshmen are learning exactly what
is expected of an NKU softball student-athlete, they're very hard
working, and we'll need them to make an immediate impact on this
This work ethic
is shown in the “commitment contract” that each of the
players signs prior to the season. The team sets goals for itself,
such as winning the conference and regional, winning all home games,
and maintaining a team grade point average of 3.3. Seven new players
have signed the contract this year, and they appear to have the
credentials. Between them, the freshman class boasts 15 all-district
or all-conference awards.
Napier helped NKU win an NCAA-record 55 consecutive games
two years ago. Napier will be a key as the Norse look for
their sixth straight NCAA berth.
a graduate of Oak Hills High School, had a solid fall and hopes
to continue her improvement. Broderick was a two-time All-Greater
Miami Conference selection and maintained a .425 batting average
over her high school career. She can play shortstop, second or first
base. Sam Del Vecchio will stand in as a backup catcher and should
also get time as a designated player this season.
is a solid utility player who was named all-conference three times
during her high school career and was a mainstay at second base
for Stewart during the fall. Kelly Greer is a third baseman by trade,
but could see some time at first base for the Norse this year. The
Louisville native took all-district honors twice during her time
at Mercy Academy and played on the Jaguars’ 2003 state runner-up
could find herself playing anywhere this season. Gregory was a big
bat during her high school career, breaking an Ohio high school
record with a .609 batting average during her junior year. Karen
Simmons, a three-time all-conference selection at Loveland High
School who struck out 622 batters in her career, will round out
the pitching rotation.
a graduate of Valley View High School in Germantown, Ohio, comes
from the two-time Southwestern Buckeye league champions and looks
to be a key player for the Norse this season.
shortstop in high school, but will move to the outfield this year.
Stewart says she expects big things from Smith.
team’s youth and inexperience, NKU was picked to finish fourth
in the Great Lakes Valley Conference preseason poll. “The
GLVC has a lot of parity,” said Stewart of the league. “Regardless
of who's ranked where, each game is a battle. Four teams in the
Great Lakes Regional were from the GLVC, which I feel speaks for
the strength of our conference.”
features five schools that ended 2006 ranked or receiving votes
in the NFCA Top 25, including GLVC opponents Southern Illinois at
Edwardsville (No. 7), Southern Indiana (No. 22) and Lewis (receiving
votes). Non-conference foes Georgia College & State (No. 6)
and Alabama-Huntsville (No. 10) also dot the schedule.
the team makes no qualms, though, about what it expects in 2007.
“Ultimately, we want to make our sixth consecutive appearance
in the NCAA Tournament. We expect it every year.”
And with a strong
core and a solid work ethic, the Norse can accomplish that goal.