2007 WWU Softball Preview
Jan. 23, 2007
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Western Washington University softball team believes it has found a way out of the .500 swamp.
The Vikings have been wading through the swamp for four seasons, never finishing a campaign more than four games off the center mark, and having exactly the same number of wins and losses in that span.
Last year, Western was 25-29 overall, and finished third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 12-12 mark. With the GNAC's most experienced pitching staff and hopes of offensive improvements, there's good reason to believe the Vikings can exceed those marks and take a marked step forward in 2007.
"We have three senior pitchers, so that should be a strength for us," said Western coach Lonnie Hicks (6th year, 122-108). "Pitching hasn't been the issue, our Achilles' heel has been getting runs in key situations. The freshmen we've brought in should contribute greatly to generating run support."
Quint was 12-12 with a 2.13 ERA last season, setting a school single-season record for strikeouts with 155. She was also tireless, throwing a team-high 174 innings.
"Jackie is a rise ball thrower, and she's coming off her best season," Hicks said. "You'd expect her to do just as well as a senior, if not be much stronger."
Walker was 8-9 with a 4.75 ERA. While those numbers were off her performance in her first two seasons, when she led the team in ERA, posting a 1.97 mark as a freshman, she still showed flashes of excellence, leading the staff with three shutouts.
"Nicole has an excellent fastball and good movement," said Hicks. "I really think we'll see her get back to her freshman season statistics this year."
Osman emerged as an outstanding No.3 starter last year despite not pitching a single inning her first two seasons. She was 5-7 with a 2.98 ERA, and threw a pair of shutouts.
"Ashley was a pleasant surprise last season," Hicks said. "As a pitcher, she faced the best teams and fared well, and she also stepped up in a huge way offensively."
Osman and Walker also contribute off the mound. Osman, who plays first base and was the regular designated hitter last season, hit .373 with three home runs and 22 runs batted in. All three marks are the best of any Western returnee.
Walker, who saw regular action at shortstop, hit .253 with two homers and 14 RBI.
Also returning in the infield is junior shortstop Lisa Pendergrast (Burlington/Burlington-Edison). She battled injuries that limited her to 18 games last season, hitting .200.
Returning after a year's absence is sophomore second baseman Katie Barker (Auburn/Auburn-Riverside). She hit .299 with a team-high 10 doubles in 2005.
Freshmen figure to be big contributors on the corners. First baseman Meghan Flem (Hood River, OR/Hood River Valley) was a second-team Class 4A all-state pick in Oregon, hitting .481 with six home runs as a high school senior. At third base, Megan Fowler (Fr., Richland)), who has the ability to play almost anywhere in the infield or outfield, is the likely starter.
Another possible contributor in the infield is sophomore Jennifer Jorgensen (Bellingham/Meridian), who saw action in 19 games last year. She also pitched, making four starts.
Behind the plate, junior Liza Teichler (Sammamish/Skyline) is a two-year regular. She hit only .194 last season, but was the team's leading hitter in 2005, hitting .395 with 13 RBI and striking out just once in 76 at-bats.
"She battled injuries last year, and that hurt her offensive output," Hicks said. "She's fully recovered now."
Also seeing time at catcher will be freshman Hannah Becker (Robstown, TX/Calallen), who was a Texas first-team Class 4A all-star as a high school senior, hitting .348 and throwing out or picking off 12 base runners.
The leading returnee in the outfield is senior centerfielder Misty Britt (Kelso). Britt hit .277 last season, scoring 17 runs and going 12-of-15 on stolen bases.
Another returnee who could see time in the outfield is sophomore Morgan Parkerson (RAF Lakenheath, England). She had just two hits in limited action last year, but one of them was a home run.
Newcomers make up the rest of the outfield. Freshman Sarah McEnroe (Woodinville), who hit .433 as a high school senior, figures to be the starter in right field, and may also see time as a pitcher. Junior Raina Boersma (Ferndale) was a second-team NWAACC all-region pick at Peninsula CC last year, hitting .347 with a school-record five home runs.
One key for the Vikings is to get off to a quick start. Western started 7-16 last season and 4-12 in 2005.
"Historically, we've started very slowly," Hicks said. "Some of that is based on weather, but we've set a goal of starting stronger, particularly offensively. Our pitching can keep us in any game."
That start will come early this year, with Western opening the season Feb. 15 at the NCAA Division II Lead-off Classic in Phoenix.
The GNAC race figures to be wide-open this year, as Humboldt State, which had won the conference championship all five years of the GNAC's existence, has moved to the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
"It changes the complexion of the conference," said Hicks. "Seattle U. is a very good program, Central Washington is always strong. Overall, the league is going to be very competitive."
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