Mount Vernon Nazarene University
800 Martinsburg Rd
Mount Vernon, OH 43050
Lady Cougars Look to Return to
Winning Ways in 2006
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - The Mount Vernon Nazarene University women’s
fastpitch softball team will look to get back to its winning ways when the 2006
season gets under way.
After two straight years of qualifying for the American Mideast Conference
Tournament, the Lady Cougars lost their final two games last season to just miss
out on the playoffs with a 17-18 overall record. The team also had three new
starting infielders and one new starting outfielder, and the defense committed
82 errors. Despite those struggles, MVNU was in almost every game as the team
suffered seven one-run losses and six two-run defeats.
Now, as the team prepares to take the field for the 2006 season, the Lady
Cougars look to rely on a more experienced infield and a solid pitching staff to
carry the team into the new year.
"We have a great group of upperclassmen who are providing tremendous leadership
for us,” said MVNU head coach Jeana Howald, who enters her seventeenth season at
her alma mater having posted a 362-269 overall record. "The kids have been
working extremely hard during the preseason workouts, and I am excited to see
how things come together this year.”
One key to the Lady Cougars’ success in 2006 will be the performance of the
team’s pitching staff. Senior right-hander Heather Clark looks to close out her
career in fine fashion after going 8-9 with a career-best 1.40 ERA last year.
She already ranks fourth in school history with 227 career strikeouts, and she
has notched 38 career victories.
Sophomore right-hander Kristin Eyerman will look to follow up a good freshman
campaign that saw her go 8-8 with a 1.80 ERA and a team-high 76 strikeouts as
she was named to the AMC South Division All-Freshmen Team. Freshmen Kylie Rupert
and Erin Trigg will add depth to the pitching rotation after solid high school
After gaining experience during the 2005 season, the MVNU infield will look to
use that experience in 2006. Senior Stephanie Johnson returns to anchor the
defense at shortstop where she has put together one of the best careers in
school history. The four-year starter, who was named to the National Christian
College Athletic Association All-American First Team last year, has a .404
career batting average with 100 RBI and 91 runs scored in 124 career games.
Junior Melody Blimline returns at first base where she started 34 of the team’s
35 games last season and committed just 10 errors in 302 chances. Meanwhile,
freshman Karly Clay will start at third base after a solid career at Gahanna
Lincoln High School.
The competition for the starting job at second base is primarily between
sophomores Carol Montgomery and Rachel Hamman. Montgomery started 34 games there
last year and committed just nine errors in 151 chances, while Hamman saw action
in 13 games with one start. Rupert and Eyerman also provide some depth at the
Junior Laura Kot returns to anchor the Lady Cougars’ outfield in rightfield. In
just two seasons, the two-time NCCAA All-American has compiled a .452 batting
average in 66 games with 58 runs scored and 103 hits.
The other two starting outfield spots are still up for grabs with six players
competing for playing time. Junior Enid Tidyman and senior Ashley Reeves seem to
be the leading candidates for the centerfield spot, while freshman Whitney
Clark, junior Jennifer Meade, senior Megan Kunkle, and sophomore Elizabeth
Wilson will all see action.
Catching will be another question mark for MVNU entering the season as the Lady
Cougars must rely on freshmen Chelsea Kellerman and Laura Morris to handle the
duties behind the plate. The development of this duo will be another key to the
team’s success in 2006.
MVNU will look to get its season under way on March 14 when the Lady Cougars are
scheduled to host Saint Vincent (Pa.) College in a non-conference doubleheader.
Then, the team will take its annual spring trip to the Orlando Rebel Games in
Kissimmee, Florida. MVNU is slated to play 10 games against NCAA Division III
teams on its 10-day trip.
Upon returning north, the Lady Cougars will play non-conference doubleheaders
against Ursuline College, Tiffin University (NAIA receiving votes), Notre Dame
College, Geneva (Pa.) College, Seton Hill (Pa.) University, Malone College, and
MVNU will also compete for the AMC South Division title in what should be a
competitive race with Ohio Dominican University, ranked 19th in the NAIA
preseason poll, and Shawnee State University, who received votes in the poll,
being the preseason favorites. Walsh University, the University of Rio Grande,
Cedarville University, Urbana University, and Malone will also provide stiff
competition in the race for the division title.
The Lady Cougars will also look to qualify for the NCCAA National Tournament
this season. Due to a lack of competition, there will not be an NCCAA East
Region Tournament, so MVNU must qualify as an at-large team. This year’s
tournament will be held at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, on