The Mount Vernon Nazarene College fastpitch softball team will enter the 2001 season with twelve experienced players returning from last year's team that posted a 17-19 overall record and an 11-13 conference mark. The Lady Cougars were very competitive in 2000 with ten of the team's losses coming by three runs or less.
MVNC returns starters at nearly every position with six seniors and four juniors anchoring the team. The squad is also very versatile with many players competing for time at more than one position.
"We should have a very competitive team this season," said head coach Jeana Howald, who enters her twelfth year with a 248-177 overall record. "The seniors want to go out with their best season yet, and the team has been working really hard in practices to get to where they should be."
Senior Tara Hines returns to anchor the pitching staff for the Lady Cougars. Hines was an American Mideast Conference Second Team selection in 2000 after posting an 11-8 record with a 1.59 earned run average. She will be joined in the rotation by freshman Amber Prosser, a First Team All-Ohioan from Ontario, Ohio, and junior Michelle Krone. Senior Natalie Wallace (Honorable Mention All-AMC in 2000) and junior Amanda Schumm (AMC First Team and National Christian College Athletic Association First Team All-American in 2000) will also provide depth on the mound.
The battle for playing time in the infield will be fierce at nearly every position. Senior Lisa Horsley and junior Stephanie Keller will both see action at first base, while senior Angie Svagerko will play second base. Senior Shelly Aldrich (Honorable Mention All-AMC in 2000) and sophomore Jenni Davis will compete for time at shortstop, and Schumm, Hines, Krone, and freshman Becky Yost could all see action at third base.
Sophomore Heather Krabill will shoulder the load of catching the talented group of pitchers. She will be backed up by Svagerko, who spent two previous seasons at catcher.
The Lady Cougars will have plenty of depth in the outfield as Wallace, Aldrich, Schumm, senior Amy Leach, junior Drew Paulo, and sophomore Debbie Dobson will all compete for playing time.
Schumm, who led the team with a .414 batting average, seven home runs. and 31 RBI, will be a prime candidate to be the designated player.
Besides competing in the rugged American Mideast Conference that consists of 14 teams, MVNC will face Kenyon College in non-conference action after returning from the team's annual spring trip to Florida, where the Lady Cougars will play 10 games against some of the top NCAA Division II, III, and NAIA teams from across the country.
"We are looking forward to our trip to Florida," said Howald. "It is always nice to start playing games after all the practice time. We have another challenging schedule, but we are confident that will be able to go and represent ourselves and Mount Vernon Nazarene College in a good way."
MVNC kicks off its season with a scrimmage doubleheader at Polk Community College on Friday, March 16. The Lady Cougars will then play their first official games on Saturday, March 17, with single games against Carroll (Wis.) College and William Patterson (N.J.) College at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. respectively.