Feb. 21, 2002
NKU SOFTBALL TEAM SEEKS GLVC TITLE
Norse to rely on combination of youth and experience in 2002
By Chris Cole, NKU director of media relations
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - There are two understatements that can easily be made about the 2002 NKU softball team. The first is that they are young, and the second is that they are hungry.
The Norse, complete with their three seniors and 10 freshmen, enter the season not only hoping to win the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, but expecting to.
A year ago, NKU saw its hopes of a conference title ended prematurely with a pair of one-run losses in the post-season tournament. With a limited roster that was banged up, the Norse surprised Wisconsin-Parkside, 6-4, before dropping a 1-0 decision to No. 1 seed Lewis (eventual national runner-up) followed by a tough 6-5 loss to No. 3 seed Southern Indiana.
Head coach Kathy Bown has bolstered her lineup with 11 newcomers, joining 10 players returning from last years 28-25 squad that posted its best conference record (13-9) since 1992.
I feel confident about our chances to be in the top three in the conference, Bown said. We have very solid players who arent willing to be mediocre.
Returning is the bulk of last years squad, minus most of the pitching.
Junior catcher Kristin Koors led the team with a .331 batting average a year ago. Koors recorded 46 hits, scored nine runs and knocked in 28 more.
Kristin has really improved behind the plate, Bown said. She seems to get better each year, and that is a tribute to her attitude and work ethic.
Crystal Wilson racked up 53 hits and 31 runs last season - both team highs. The junior infielder started all 53 games and added 15 RBI and five stolen bases. Her .312 batting average was second best on the team.
Krista Eldridge was the source of much of NKUs power last season. The senior hit .307 with 30 runs scored and 50 hits, while knocking in 22 runs on 13 doubles, three triples, and four home runs. Eldridge, who already holds the school record for career homers at 11, has improved defensively and may see some time in the outfield this year.
Joanna Doerner has played just about every position for the Norse, and has always been productive both in the field and at the plate. She hit .269 last season, knocking in 29 runs and scoring 21 more. She finished with 43 hits - including 14 for extra bases. Her seven triples led the team.
Camie Deaver started 52 games as a freshman last season and brings depth to the NKU outfield. Deaver hit .227 and racked up 32 hits and 15 runs last year. She finished with six RBI and hit three doubles.
Like Deaver, sophomore outfielder Jessica Dougherty got plenty of experience last season. Dougherty started all 53 games of her freshman campaign. She batted .222 and scored 15 runs on 35 hits. Dougherty contributed nine RBI and hit five doubles.
Last year, Amanda Davidson hit .217 and started every game for the Norse. The junior infielder recorded 40 hits and scored 24 runs. She also knocked in 11 runs.
Molly Fachman gave the Norse solid innings behind the plate last year. Fachman started 52 games and scored 10 runs on 21 hits. She added six RBI.
Joining the Norse this season is a crop of extremely talented young newcomers that will immediately challenge for playing time in the field and on the pitching mound.
In the outfield, junior Shaunta Mitchell (St. Catharine) and a pair of freshmen from Western Hills High School., Allison Goodrich and Maggie Stath, will add depth to a returning corps that was productive a year ago.
The freshman contingency of Laura Caster, Carrie Higgins, Stephanie Leimbach, Angie Lindeman, Megan Owens, and Jesse Thomas will give Bown plenty of options in the infield.
Just about all of them bring power and consistency to the plate. Higgins earned All-State honors as a senior, and Owens gives the Norse plenty of depth behind the plate.
NKU doesnt return nearly as much experience to the mound as it does in the field. Gone are Kim Bina and Jamie Moore, a pitching tandem that accounted for 23 of NKUs 28 wins and more than 305 of the teams 368 innings pitched last season.
Returning to lead the Norse is senior Katie Garling, who tallied five wins and one save a year ago. Garling posted a 3.28 ERA and threw two complete games. She made 18 mound appearances and started nine games. Garling allowed 25 earned runs in just over 53 innings of work. She also struck out 17 batters.
Lauren MacDonald also returns to the Norse rotation. MacDonald posted a 1.45 ERA in limited work a year ago. She finished with an 0-2 record and recorded one save. MacDonald made six appearances on the mound and started one game. She allowed just two runs in nine innings of work and struck out one batter.
Joining Garling and MacDonald this season in the Norse rotation will be freshmen Emily Breitholle and Kyla Chaney. Breitholle struck out 180 batters and posted a 0.43 ERA as a senior. Chaney was undefeated during her high school career and posted a 7-0 record and a 0.16 ERA as a senior.
With such a solid blend of youth and experience, Bown has set her sights higher than ever before. After playing well in last year's GLVC Tournament - dropping a pair of one-run games - the sky is the limit for NKU this year.
The conference tournament winner will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, so we have an added incentive to win it this year, Bown said. I feel that we will be very capable of doing just that.