BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University softball team will look to strike back in 2017 and continue its pursuit of the school's first ever Ohio Athletic Conference Championship.
Head Coach Tom Spencer, who enters his 14th season in Berea and his 19th overall, welcomes back 10 letterwinners, six position players, one pitcher and six every day starters from a year ago.
BW returns just two starters in the outfield in senior Academic All-OAC performer Mackenzie Nelsen (Powell/Dublin Scioto) and sophomore Abbie Thompson (Madison). Nelsen had one double, three triples, seven runs batted-in (RBI) and 23 putouts. Thompson, who started every game in centerfield, batted .298 with one double, a team-tying 12 walks and 51 putouts. Junior Sierra Bennett (Tallmadge), who also will see time as the designated player, sophomore Alexis Boledovic (Berea/Berea-Midpark), an All-OAC selection last season will move to the outfield after playing first base, and freshmen Macy Leach (Westerville/Central) all will push for that third and final outfield position.
Headlining the infield group are a pair of starters in sophomore shortstop Erica English (North Olmsted) and sophomore third baseman Paige Loveless (Mechanicsburg). English, an All-OAC selection last year, was second on the team with a .330 batting average with two doubles and a team-best 67 assists. Loveless batted .255 with three doubles and a team-best two homeruns. Sophomores Krista Jennings (Luckey/Eastwood) and MacKenzi Matthews (North Royalton) and freshmen Hannah Albrecht (Northridge, Calif./Chaminade College Prep), Alex Kozich (Avon) and Mallory Swogger (Wampum, Pa./Lincoln) will look to fill in the right side.
In the circle, BW returns just one starter in two-time Academic All-OAC pitcher Erica Morgan (Brook Park/Midpark). Morgan, the OAC Rookie of the Year in 2014, tallied 84 strikeouts with seven wins in a career-high 138.1 innings pitched. Nelsen is the only other yellow Jacket to pitch last season as she made 10 appearances, including three starts, with 11 strikeouts. Junior Sam Mott (Frewsburg, N.Y.) and freshman Nikki Turner (Hudson) will join the rotation as each could see time as a starter or in relief.
Behind the plate, junior Tori Young (Tallmadge) and sophomore Sami Minor (North Royalton) return after seeing time in the battery. Young appeared in 16 games had 39 putouts and two assists. Minor, who also played in the outfield and made two appearances in the circle, appeared in 24 games with 76 putouts and 10 assists. Freshman Talia Prignano (Avon Lake) will push for time at the backstop.
The Yellow Jackets open the 2017 season in Tucson, Arizona at the Tucson Invitational Games with four game against NAIA opponents before heading to Honolulu, Hawaii for doubleheaders against three NCAA Division II opponents. BW also plays non-conference doubleheaders against Albion (Mich.), Adrian (Mich.), Hiram and Pitt-Greensburg (Pa.). The Yellow Jackets open OAC play on March 25 against the University of Mount Union.