Softball warms up in cold weather

Softball warms up in cold weather

by Matt Bower

After a tie for third place in the conference and a 31-4-1overall record last season, the Storm softball team is looking todo even better this season as they prepare for the upcomingseason.

“Our goal is to win the conference,” said head coach HenryChristowski.

“That will open a lot of doors for us. We’ll get an automaticbid to regional play, which is the only way to advance by the pointsystem in the post-season,” said Christowski.

Christowski believes the four major players in the conferencewill be Simpson, Coe, Wartburg, and Central.

Central is the returning national champions and will be lookingto defend their title. Wartburg will also be a worthy opponentbecause they advanced to the national tournament last season. Coeand Simpson rounded out the top three last season as they sharedthe third place slot.

Some key players that will be instrumental in pushing the Stormforward towards the conference title include senior MichelleMontgomery, senior Sara Kahler, senior Alexis Angier, and juniorRebecca Siler. All are returning members to the team this season.Last season first baseman Montgomery led the conference with a .444batting average and second leading hitter, while Kahler, catcherfor the Storm, was third in hitting with .435.

“Montgomery and Kahler are the type of players that have thepotential to gain All-American recognition,” said Christowski.Second baseman Angier had a tremendous season in 2002 as she wasselected first team All-Conference and third team All-Region aswell as led the team with 22 runs scored, 19 walks and 40 hits. Shewas also second on the team in batting average with .366. Lastseason she averaged .333 with 28 hits.

Center fielder Siler also had a great year in 2002 as she wasselected second team All-Conference and second team All-Region aswell as led the team in hitting average with .339, on-basepercentage with .448 and doubles with eight. She was also second onthe team with two homeruns and in slugging percentage with.464.

Christowski said the team has a young pitching staff which ismostly comprised of juniors, sophomores and freshman. He also addedthat the rest of the squad will have to step up and fill the holesleft by leaving seniors.

The Storm started practice sessions last Sunday as they beganpreparing for their first game on March 6 in Kissimmee, Fla. Overthe course of spring break the team will play from March 6-13. Theywill play 14 games against schools from states such as Ohio,Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Although the practice sessions didn’t start until last weekend,the training and workouts begin long before the winter.

“We do a lot of training in the fall. The fall practices give usa chance to meet the transfer students and incoming freshmen,” saidsophomore Bradi Smith.

Junior Jeana Baker said the fall is a good time to meet thefreshmen because the team holds dinners where the players can meetand greet one another and just hang out.

“The assistant coach also has a dinner at his house whichprovides us with another team building opportunity,” saidBaker.

The girls feel positively about the team and the upcomingseason.

“I believe we have the chance to do very, very well. There are alot of team leaders among the seniors,” said Smith.

There is a lot of good experience and leadership on the team.Getting along as a team both on and off the field is a real plus,said Baker.

The girls share Christowski’s vision of reaching the conferencetitle and then going further in regional play.

“I am just going to do the best I can and do my part ondefense,” said Baker.

“Nationals would be awesome and also winning the conference. Ithink we can definitely pull it off,” said an optimistic Smith.