Softball: Depth, experience key for 2014 season

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April 2, 2014

By Daniel Schoettler

Last season, the Warhawks softball team finished with a 32-win season and a second-place finish in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Head coach Brenda Volk’s squad looks to build on a successful 2013 campaign in which it made an NCAA tournament appearance.

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Chelsey Schobert

“I expect to win conference outright this year,” senior catcher Chelsey Schobert said.  “We have pretty much all our starters from last year back, so we have that experience being in big games.”

Coming into the 2014 season, the Warhawks return their whole entire infield from last year led by senior shortstop Laura Eichenhold, who only had one error all of last year.

Volk said Eichenhold is the best shortstop the Warhawks have ever had.

The ’Hawks also return seniors Morgan Krisch and Kelly McGrail, along with junior Jo Jablonski to the infield as well.

In addition to returning the same infield as last year, all three outfielders also are returning from last year in seniors Mimi Ramirez and Samie Seamon, as well as junior Paige Evangelista.

The Warhawks also show depth in the outfield with junior Deven DuCharme, sophomores Courtney Smith, Morgan Parise and Elaina Caron, as well as freshman Haley Morelli and MacKenzie Price.

The ’Hawks’ infield also shows some depth with junior Caitlin Snyder and sophomore Maggie Hansen, as well as two freshmen in Hannah Taylor and Amy Ricci.

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Brenda Volk

“I definitely feel our defense is our biggest strength,” Volk said. “Last year, we finished with a .974 fielding percentage, and we have basically the same defensive line up this year. It is very fun to watch our team play defense.”

Offensively, the Warhawks will be led by seniors Krisch and Seamon.

Seamon led the team in home runs last year with seven, while Krisch led the team in RBIs last year with 30.

Even though they have a lot of pieces coming back, the Warhawks lost some big pieces to graduation last year in catcher Emily Epifanio and pitcher Katie Boyle.

The battery will look a bit different for Volk’s squad heading into the 2014 season.

“We have a senior catcher in Chelsea Schobert, that has improved each year while waiting patiently behind Epifanio,” Volk said.  “She will do a great job for us behind the plate.”

The team also has depth at catcher. Volk said freshman Alyssa Fernandez saw some time on the spring trip.

With the loss of Boyle to the pitching staff, the ’Hawks have a big piece coming back in All-Conference player Bekka Houda.

Houda went 15-3 last season as well as striking 92 batters out along the course of 2013.

In addition to Houda, the Warhawks added Kelynn Sporer, who transferred from UW-Parkside.

The team also posseses three freshmen in Cara Smoczynski, Kara Tadda and Stephanie Waller.

The Warhawks were 10-2 on their spring trip including a 4-2 win against Carthage College who was in the tournament last year.

In the team’s 12 games over break, Volk’s club allowed two teams to score more than five runs.

In five of the games, the offense showed its potency, scoring at least seven runs.

Their only two losses on the trip were to Amherst College (3-2) and the University of St. Thomas (14-3 in five innings).

“I’m really excited about the team this year,” Ramirez said.  “During our spring trip we showed a lot of depth in every position.  We also showed that as a team we know how to rally together and fight back when we need to.”

The ’Hawks head on the road to UW-La Crosse for a double header on April 3 before the returning home for two double headers against UW-Stout and the University of Dubuque on April 6 and April 7.

UW-Stout currently possesses an 11-9 record, while Dubuque has an overall record of 11-5.

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