NewsLady Cougars Wrap up 2005 Softball Season
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - Despite a lineup that featured three new starting infielders and one new starting outfielder, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University women’s fastpitch softball team posted a 17-18 overall record and just missed making the American Mideast Conference Tournament in 2005.
The season got off to a slow start for the Lady Cougars as they posted a 2-7 record on their annual spring trip to the Orlando Rebel Games in Kissimmee, Florida. The biggest struggle for the team came on defense as MVNU committed 32 errors over their first nine games and yet were still in most of the games with three one-run losses and two two-run losses.
Upon returning north to Mount Vernon, the Lady Cougars swept back-to-back non-conference doubleheaders from Notre Dame College and Geneva (Pa.) College with three of the victories coming in the form of shutouts as the team improved to 6-7.
However, MVNU dropped six of its next eight games with the only two wins during that stretch coming in a doubleheader sweep at Walsh University - the first sweep of the Lady Cavaliers since the 1994 season.
With their record standing at 8-13, the Lady Cougars got on a roll and won nine of their next 12 games as MVNU’s record above .500 for the first time at 17-16. The team swept doubleheaders from Kenyon College, Seton Hill (Pa.) College, Malone College, and Saint Vincent (Pa.) College during that span.
Needing just one win in their final doubleheader at Urbana University to reach the playoffs, the Lady Cougars lost both games 6-4 and 6-5 to finish the year 17-18 overall and 5-9 in the AMC South Division.
"Our record was not really indicative of how good our team was this year,” said MVNU head coach Jeana Howald, whose team lost seven one-run games and six two-run games. "The biggest challenge that we faced was on defense as we committed 82 errors. With three new starters in the infield and one in the outfield, we allowed our opponents too many extra outs this year.”
"Our pitching staff was one of the strengths of this team,” Howald added. "We posted a team earned run average of 1.52 and walked just 55 batters in 239 1/3 innings. Our four seniors also contributed heavily to our success and provided good leadership both on and off the field.”
Seniors Jackie Shively, Brittany Stroop, Shannon Rachel, and Shara Dyer were each key contributors for the Lady Cougars in their final season at MVNU. Shively, an outfielder, batted .419 with 31 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, and 19 sacrifice hits. She also became the program’s career leader in both stolen bases (43) and games played (165). For her efforts, she was named to the AMC South Division Second Team, the National Christian College Athletic Association East Region Team, the NFCA Great Lakes Region Second Team, and the NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American Team. She was also an NAIA and NCCAA All-America Scholar-Athlete and was named to the ESPN The Magazine® Academic All-District IV Second Team.
Stroop, a designated player/catcher, batted .311 with 12 doubles, seven runs scored, and 33 RBI. She was named to the AMC South Division First Team, the NCCAA East Region Team, and the NAIA Region IX First Team. Meanwhile, Rachel, a third baseman/pitcher, batted .315 with 11 RBI and seven runs scored in addition to going 1-1 on the mound with a 0.45 ERA. She was an AMC South Division Honorable Mention pick and a member of the NCCAA East Region Team. Dyer closed out her career by batting .248 with 14 RBI as she was named to the NCCAA East Region Team.
Junior Stephanie Johnson, a shortstop, posted another outstanding campaign as she batted .456 with 12 doubles, nine triples, two home runs, 34 RBI, and 30 runs scored. She was named to the AMC South Division Second Team, the NCCAA East Region Team, the NFCA Great Lakes Region Second Team, and the NCCAA All-American First Team. She was also selected to the NAIA and NCCAA All-America Scholar-Athlete Teams and was named to the ESPN The Magazine® Academic All-District IV First Team.
Heather Clark, a junior pitcher, compiled an 8-9 record on the mound with a 1.40 ERA. In 114 2/3 innings, she struck out 71 batters with 32 walks. She was selected to the NCCAA East Region Team.
Sophomore outfielder Laura Kot put together another stellar season as she batted .463 with six doubles, one triple, 33 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases. She was named to the AMC South Division Second Team, the NCCAA East Region Team, the NFCA Great Lakes Region Second Team, and the NCCAA All-American Second Team. She was also selected to the ESPN The Magazine® Academic All-District IV Second Team.
Freshman pitcher Kristin Eyerman contributed heavily in her first collegiate season as she posted an 8-8 record with a 1.80 ERA on the mound. In 109 innings of work, she struck out a team-high 76 batters with just 21 walks. She was named to the AMC South Division All-Freshmen Team and was an NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention pick.
Sophomores Melody Blimline and Jennifer Meade along with freshman Carol Montgomery each saw action in 30 or more games during the season with Blimline and Montgomery both playing in all 35 games. Juniors Megan Kunkle and Ashley Reeves, sophomore Enid Tidyman, and freshmen Rachel Hamman, Claudia Claxon, and Sandi Zarley also contributed to the team’s success.
With the loss of only four players to graduation and the addition of several quality recruits, the future remains bright for the MVNU women’s fastpitch softball program.