Softball Returns Several Leading PlayersBy Laura Nelson on 01/24/2013 Goodwell, Okla.—The OPSU softball field finally thawed enough last week for the women to practice outside, and with their first game scheduled for Feb. 1, it's not a moment too soon.
First year head coach Meghan Mulcahy said, "We have plenty of talent, and we just need to get it all together." Last year's team just missed making the Heartland Conference tournament and finished with a 19-30 season record. While the team will return several key players, new members have also been added to round out the roster.
Julie Cross put up remarkable numbers last year and was the first Aggie ever to be named to the Daktronics Softball South Central Region team. She also made Heartland Conference history, posting a .529 on-base percentage, the highest ever. She came in second in batting average with a .476 and was selected for the All-Heartland first team, completing the 2011-2012 season in the top five in the conference in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, and stolen bases. The senior from Pearland, Texas plays her final season for the Aggies this year.
Brandi Heath and Emily Vasquez were named to the All-Heartland second team last year. Heath, a senior from Ft. Worth, plays second base and led the conference last year with 60 RBIs. She put up a .387 batting average, a .580 slugging percentage and hit eight doubles, three triples and five homers. Catcher Emily Vasquez posted 138 put outs and 17 assists last year and also earned a .252 batting average. Mulcahy said the junior from El Paso is also one of the best leader on the team.
Another key returner is Presjel Dai'Re, a closing pitcher who was credited with three saves last year. Also back on the diamond this year will be pitchers Talena Tippett and Kayla Pollard; Junna'e Dai'Re and Jordan Saldana in the outfield; Destyni Trayler and Britnie Weddle at first; and Krista Bomak and Kari Pitts at utility.
New players expected to make an impact include Samantha Arledge, a pitcher who can also hit; Brittany Scruggs, pitcher; and Bristol Ashlock and Kaitlin McCool at utility. Pitchers Lilli Ward and A'Lex Koonce, utility player Michaela MacGillivray, and Ashly Duin at third complete the Aggie roster.
Jason Minor is the assistant coach and Kendra Wellnitz, who finished her college pitching career at OPSU last year, is the student assistant.
The women start the season with a four-game series beginning Feb. 1 at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M. and they will also play again this year in the University of Arkansas-Monticello 7-State Classic, a very competitive 4-day, 8-game tournament in mid-February. Mulcahy expects a lot from this year's team, and said, "I think we have a good shot at playing in the conference tournament."