2002 Softball Preview
Bluffton hopes for rise to top of Heartland Conference in 2002
By Todd Pickthorn, Sports Information Intern
February 7, 2002
The Bluffton College softball team returns nine varsity performers to their squad this spring, which is led by head coach Ty Cook, who enters her fourth season at BC. Over her first three seasons, Cook has compiled a record of 59-53, including a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship in her first season as coach in 1999.
Last season saw BC finish with a record of 19-19 overall and 7-5 in the HCAC, which tied for second place. The Beavers just missed out on their third straight 20 win season under Cook, and took the HCAC regular season runner-up spot for the second time.
Bluffton has been a conference title contender for three straight seasons and are looking to stay in the hunt this season. The Beavers, however, will be without the services of two-time All-HCAC selection Bree Wood, who batted .400 in HCAC games last season (6th in HCAC). Also gone are graduates Elizabeth Snavely (.319, 38 H, 21 rbi), Jessica Spain (.306, 34 H, .871 fielding percentage) and Heather Thornton (.261, 29 H, 12 rbi). The loss of that talent was noticed around the HCAC as the Beavers were picked to finish fifth in the HCAC coaches preseason poll.
Experience will be a key factor this season as Bluffton has just one senior and welcomes 12 freshman to their team. The lone senior is All-HCAC pitcher Emily Kurtz, who went 13-7 on the mound last season for the Beavers and had an outstanding 1.28 earned run average. Her 13 wins last season is the most in a season by a BC pitcher and her career 1.98 earned run average is best in the 17 year history of Bluffton softball.
Other starters returning this season to the line-up will be sophomore catcher Amanda Payne (.375, 8th HCAC), who was an All-HCAC selection last season as a freshman. Juniors Missy Neal (.333, 30 H), Missy Alexander (17 runs), Paula Fry (.348), and Stacy Herr (6-9, 2.42 ERA) all return this season. Other sophomore returning players include Amber Fitzwater (.299), who started 20 games last season, Amanda DeVaul (.240), and Stephanie Rush (.963 fielding percentage).
Twelve first year players that will lend their services to the Beavers will be Janeen Arps (Liberty Center), Rebecca Heller (Hoylville), Jaime Kujawa (Toledo), Allison Large (Archibold), Lane Leedy (Bellville), Jennifer Lehmen (Lima), Michelle Pleiman (Yorkshire), Jill Rothe (Wapakoneta), Amanda Snider (Wapakoneta), Kathryn Snyder (Woodville), Jennifer Summers (Oregon) and Jacklyn Wells (Molinta).
Also new to Bluffton College softball this season will be first year assistant coach Megan Aiello.