2013 WWU Softball Preview
Jan. 30, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University softball coach Amy Suiter had one response to the disappointing 2012 season.
"We're moving forward," she said. Nothing more, nothing less from the third-year coach who offered no excuses for last year's 17-36 overall record and 13-23 mark in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.
Instead, Suiter was up front and optimistic about what she has in this year's team.
"Potential is a scary word," said Suiter, who was the GNAC Coach of the Year in 2011 while leading WWU to a 36-16 record and the NCAA Division II Sub-Regional. "But athleticism and knowing what they can do offensively and defensively, and in the circle, the potential is there, it's just up to them to perform on the field."
WWU opens its season against BYU-Hawaii on Feb. 1 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Big contributions are expected from four returnees who received GNAC all-star recognition over the last two seasons. They are senior first base/outfielder Rachelle Berry (Alger/Burlington-Edison), who received honorable mention in 2012, sophomore third baseman Cheyenne Best (Sedro-Woolley), a second-team all-star last spring; junior outfielder Meghan Carrillo (Prunedale, CA/North Monterey County), twice a second-team all-star; and senior catcher Jackie Rothenberger (Coquitlam, BC), a second-team pick in 2011.
Berry, who batted .313 and drove in 17 runs last year, will be a key cog in a Viking lineup that Suiter expects to be much more productive this season. Best hit .280 and scored a team-high 24 runs besides being a vacuum at the hot corner.
Carrillo has been consistently productive with respective averages of .315 and .312 the last two seasons, and a combined 37 RBI.
Rothenberger hit .277 and drove in 22 runs in 2012 while committing just four errors and throwing out 12 base runners.
Suiter said Rothenberger's biggest responsibility this spring will be managing a young and inexperienced pitching staff that could have as many as four freshmen seeing time in the circle.
"With that many freshmen, it is a big task for her to make sure they're ready to go both physically and mentally," Suiter said.
Two other top returnees for WWU are senior infielder Kristen Allen (Arlington) and junior infielder Amanda Flores (Ferndale). Last year, Allen hit eight doubles, drove in 20 runs and scored 20; and Flores had team-highs of five home runs and a .488 slugging percentage.
The Vikings expect a big boost from senior outfielder Camille DePew (Seattle/Seattle Lutheran), who sat out last year after transferring from Division I North Dakota State where she played in nine games. In 2010, Depew earned NFCA JC All-America honors at Shoreline CC, hitting .542 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI.
Another transfer who should help offensively is junior infielder Haylee Baker (Poulsbo/Bainbridge). She was a JC All-American at Bellevue CC, hitting .455 with 13 homers and 54 RBI.
A promising freshman is designated hitter Jordan Walley (Maple Valley/Tahoma), who hit 21 career home runs as a prep.
Suiter has a pitching staff made up of one veteran and four freshmen.
Junior Jenna DeRosier (Kelso), a co-captain last year, is slated to be the ace. She is looking to return to her 2011 form when she posted a 3.63 earned run average in 52 innings worked.
"It's a large staff with a pitch-by-community philosophy," Suiter said.
A big plus for the Vikings this year has been working out during the off-season on a newly renovated field, which became available in March of 2012. The $1.2 million project included a new artificial turf outfield, two new bullpens, fences that met NCAA standards, dugouts and a re-grading of the infield.
Vikings looking to return to 2011 form in 2013
By ANDREW LANG -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Last season was one to forget for the Western Washington University softball team.
The Vikings finished 17-36 one year removed from 2011 when they went 36-16 and earned an NCAA Sub Regional Tournament berth.
WWU struggled to score runs and couldn't find a true ace in its pitching rotation.Vikings coach Amy Suiter, who was selected softball's 2011 GNAC Coach of Year, is hopeful about 2013, though.
Western has several key returners and has added a number of talented, young pitching prospects."It's obviously hard to tell before we get going, but I'm optimistic," Suiter said in a phone interview. "They've worked hard all offseason."
WWU opens its season against BYU-Hawaii in the Hawaii Hilo Tournament at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, in Hilo, Hawaii.
Senior second baseman Kristen Allen is another player Suiter is hoping to get added production from this spring.
There isn't one way Suiter plans on winning games. She said her club is a balanced group and has the ability to return to their 2011 form.
"We're going to work on our situational hitting and scoring runs," Suiter said. "Our pitching staff is young. Jenna (DeRosier) is a junior this year and the freshmen are looking pretty strong."D
eRosier is the only returning pitcher on Western's roster. Stephanie Fox, who led WWU with a 2.56 ERA last year, is graduated. Devyn Baker, Janelle Kasch and Erika Hendron have also graduated.DeRosier posted a 3.63 ERA and a 5-2 record in 2011 but had a 2012 ERA of 5.22 with a 4-14 record in 21 starts.
Not only is DeRosier looking to rebound from an off year, she is adopting the responsibility of helping Western's freshman pitchers adapt to collegiate ball.
"Obviously, she is going to be very important," Suiter said of DeRosier. "She is really maturing and has taken on a leadership role, trying to get the younger ones to be sophomores before the start of their freshman year."
Levin, an Everett High School grad and reigning Everett Herald softball Player of the Year, may be the best of the bunch.
"Lexie is a good, young pitcher," Suiter said. "She's left handed and throws hitters off balance. Being left handed, it's nice to be able to run it in on right-handed batters, but her ability to keep hitters off balance is her biggest strength."
While DeRosier's presence will be important to the development of WWU's five freshman pitchers, Rothenberger will be just as, if not more, important behind the plate.
"Her job right now is the same as Jenna's," Suiter said of Rothenberger. "They both have done a good job with these kids getting them ready to go. Jackie in the lineup is a big contributor and is in a leadership role."
Rothenberger will be looking to rebound, herself. She batted .344 as a sophomore, but her average dripped to .277 last season.
"I think (Rothenberger) is hoping for a better year and wants to get back to that 2011 season," Suiter said. "She definitely has more confidence this year than she's had in the past."
Walley, who stands 6-foot-2, could also develop into another solid option in the pitching circle.Where Walley's largest impact may be felt, though, is at the plate. She set a school career home run record at Tahoma High School with 21 long balls and was a first-team Seattle Times all-area selection.
Along with Walley, Suiter expects Amanda Flores, Berry and Carrillo to bat in the heart of Western's order.Senior Camille DePew redshirted last year after transferring from North Dakota State University and is slated to bat leadoff and start in center field.
"A lot of older players experienced both years," Suiter said of Western's successful 2011 season and 2012's down year. "We're definitely moving in the right direction, and we'll see where we are at as a team."
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