By: Ryan Sosic '19
BEREA, Ohio- The Baldwin Wallace University softball team aims to compete for the school's first-ever regular season Ohio Athletic Conference championship during the 2019 season.
Veteran Head Coach Tom Spencer, who is in his 15th season in Berea and 21st overall, will have a team of 15 returners, including 12 varsity letterwinners, while bringing in a 2019 class of eight freshmen and one transfer.
The outfield will look to be a strong point on the squad as senior Abbie Thompson (Madison), junior Macy Leach (Westerville/Central), senior All-Ohio Athletic conference and Academic All-OAC selection Alexis Boledovic (Brook Park/Berea-Midpark) and junior Hailey Owens (Lakewood) all return to the diamond for another season.
Thompson is a three-year letterwinner and started in 27 games a year ago. The Business administration and Marketing double major led the team with 17 walks and tied for second on the team with six stolen bases. Leach is a two-year letter winner who batted .277 a season ago. She finished last season tied for a team lead with a career-high two triples and recorded a career-best 47 putouts from center field. Boledovic returns for her last season in the Brown and Gold after being named to the All-OAC for the second time in her career a season ago. The senior started all 32 games and led the team with career-highs of a .440 batting average, .534 slugging percentage, 51 hits and 13 stolen bases. Owens looks to build off her freshman season where she tallied 16 starts and lead the team with four sac bunts while batting .295 at the plate. Amanda Crisler (Lorain/Amherst) will be the lone newcomer to the outflield position group.
The infield brings back the most experience to the 2019 squad with five returners, including senior All-OAC shortstop Erica English (North Olmsted) and junior Academic All-OAC second basemen Alex Kozich (Avon). English is a two-time All-OAC selection after being tabbed to the first team a season ago and earning an honorable mention selection her freshman season. She started all 32 games in 2018, posting a career-best .396 batting average and leading the team with 57 assists. Kozich started in all 32 games and posted the second most assists with a career-best 39 and six stolen bases.
The rest of the infield will be controlled by returning sophomore Mackenzie Milligan (Cleveland/St. Joseph Academy), senior Krista Jennings (Luckey/Eastwood) and sophomore Hannah Perrine (Sagamore Hills/Nordonia). The infield will include an influx with freshman as Maranda Morrison (Avon Lake), Natalie Wilkins (Columbia Station/Columbia) and Kami Helm (Uniontown/Green) will look to compete for playing time in their first season in the Brown and Gold. Junior Shelby Sprouse (Granville) will also be competing for a spot in the infield during her first year as a Yellow Jacket after transferring from Division II Hillsdale College (Mich.).
In the circle for the Yellow Jackets will feature three returners and two freshmen. Sophomore All-OAC second-team selection Abby Cosart (Lima/Bath) will be returning after a stellar first season in Berea. Cosart was named OAC Pitcher of the Week on April 23 and earned her first career shutout vs. Marietta College on March 26. In her 11 starts, she led the team with seven wins and struckout 30 batters. Two-year letterwinner Nikki Turner (Hudson) will be looked upon to put together a great junior season in the circle after appearing in 17 games with eight starts a year ago. The dean's list student registered a record of 3-1 and struckout 18 batters.
Rounding out the rotation is sophomore Makenzie Storts (London/Licking Heights) and freshmen Ashley Matousek (Sagamore Hills/Akron Archbishop Hoban), Hannah Welling (Ravenna) and Nikki Camarati (Brunswick/Holy Name), who is expected to contribute in her first season in a Yellow Jacket uniform.
After appearing in 94 career games, senior Sami Minor (North Royalton) will be looked upon as a senior leader behind the plate during her last season in Berea. During a career 2018 season, she started 31 games and lead the team with a career-best nine doubles, tied for the team lead with a career-high tying two triples and finished fourth on the team with a career-high .333 batting average. Two-year letterwinner Talia Prignano (Avon Lake) will come back for her junior season after starting nine games last year where she posted 54 putouts, good enough for sixth best on the squad. Kayla Lorenzo (Chargin Falls/West Geauga) will also catch balls and strikes during her freshman season.
Sophomore Renata Russo (Columbus/Bexey) will look to make an impact as a catcher and in the outfield after she appeared in 18 games as a freshman, scoring four runs and tallying a run batted-in.
The Yellow Jackets will open the season by traveling to to Tucson, Arizona for their annual spring break trip to compete in the Tucson Invitational Games on March 4-8. BW will then play three consecutive doubleheaders on the road, highlighted by the first conference matchup of the season on March 23 against Marietta College.