Beaver softball hopes to continue dominance in 2005
By Molly Burnell, sports information assistant
March 3, 2005
Preparing for a season starts long before the team steps foot on the field for the first game. Weight lifting, running, throwing, batting and infield practice are all activities that Bluffton University softball players have become familiar with during their off season. "Last season the team learned that hard work pays off," head coach Holly Spann said. In 2004 the Beavers won the Heartland Conference title, earned a ranking of 21st in the country and were named an All-Academic team by the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association.
In 2005, the team will expand their schedule to play more challenging opponents. Schools like Muskingum, Alma, Ohio Northern, Denison and Wittenberg, along with the Heartland Conference squads will face Bluffton this season. "The only way to get better is to play more competitive teams," Spann said.
The 2005 edition of the Bluffton softball team will bring back many of the same faces from last season. The team graduated three seniors in 2004 and 10 players will be returning to the Beaver line up, along with six newcomers.
All-American senior Allison Lange (Archbold/Archbold) will be back in the line up for Bluffton in 2005. Last season Lange broke many single season hitting records (batting average, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage). "Allison is a strong leader, who is very coachable," Spann said.
Seniors Lane Leedy (Bellville/Clear Fork) and Jackie Wells (Napoleon/Partick Henry) will provide the new players with a positive example through their leadership.
Michelle Pleiman, senior catcher, (Yokshire/Minster) will be behind the plate again for the Beavers. In 2004 Pleiman earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for her work in the classroom. "Michelle is a smart catcher who can command and run the defense, she knows her opponents and the game very well," Spann said.
Senior Mandy Snider (Wapakoneta/Wapakoneta) will be a mainstay at shortstop for the Beavers. Snider was named first-team All-HCAC as a junior for her efforts. "Mandy is a clutch hitter who has a hit-it-to-me attitude while in the field," Spann said.
Junior pitcher Sarah Betts (Bryan/Bryan) returns to the mound after a stellar sophomore year. Last season Betts broke many titles in the Bluffton record book, as she set new single season records in all pitching categories and claimed the career strikeout record (399). For her accomplishments on the field Betts was named the Heartland Conference's M.V.P for softball, as well as an NFCA Division III All-American. "All of Sarah's accomplishments are hard earned, she is a team player and is willing to work hard," Spann said.
Returning to left field will be junior Michelle Metzger (Lakeview/Indian Lake) and coming back at right field, junior Lindsay Miller (Grover Hill/Wayne Trace). "Michelle and Lindsay are both threats in the outfield, their defensive skills along with their ability to make plays are a big help to the team," Spann said.
Junior second basemen Kate Barringer (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) will show her "quiet determination on the field this season", Spann said.
Sophomore Carrie Weisbecker (Okeana/Ross) will also see playing time at the infield positions in 2005.
Newcomers to the squad this season include: pitcher and first basemen, Heather Beighle (Greenville/Arcanum), pitcher and outfielder Tonya Dean (Ketterring/Fairmont), outfielder Amanda Harris (Greenville/Arcanum), catcher Chelsey LaPorta (Clyde/Sandusky), catcher Sarah Nusbaum (Sherwood/Fairview) and outfielder Catie Richman (Upper Sandusky/Upper Sandusky).
As the Beavers continue to work hard in the preseason they know that their determination will soon pay off. "Everyone is ready for the games to start. Playing is what we look forward to," Spann said.