The 2011 season was a bench mark in the history of the Hiram College softball program. The Terriers posted a school-record 29 victories, including a second North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and a second appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament that saw Hiram advance all the way to the Regional Championship game for the first time in program history.
“We had a great year last year, but are focused on the present,” said sixth-year Head Coach Kristin Tassey. “Last years success has only pushed this team to work harder.”
Hiram has the potential for a repeat performance in 2012 as the Terriers return almost their entire roster from a year ago. Back to lead Hiram will be All-Region players Kristen Cooney (North Lewisburg/Triad), Kelly Langland (Batavia/McNicholas) and Alee Singer (Akron/Dayton).
In the infield, four starters are back in Langland, Singer, sophomore Jessica Bolanz (Randolph/Waterloo) and junior Danielle Reddinger (Lorain/Southview).
Langland, a two-time All-Region and All-North Coast Athletic Conference player, started all 43 games and finished third on the team in batting average at .378 (54-of-143). She led the team in triples (five), doubles (17) and was tied for second in homeruns with five. She was also second on the team in runs scored with 35 and third in RBI with 33. Her five triples and 17 doubles led the NCAC, while her 35 runs scored were fourth most, and her 33 RBI ranked fifth.
Singer, a two-time All-NCAC infielder and 2010 All-Region player, was second on the team in batting average in 2011 at .385 (52-of-135). She led the team in RBI (36) and was tied for second in homeruns (five). In addition, Singer was amongst the team leaders in runs (33) and doubles (15). Defensively, she had a .989 fielding percentage with 264 putouts, 13 assists and three errors as the team’s starting first baseman.
Bolanz made an immediate impact as a freshman, including in the NCAA Tournament where she batted .294 (five-of-17) with three homeruns and had seven RBI in six games. For the season, she had a .296 batting average (37-of-125) and led the team in homeruns (eight), was second in RBI (35) and was tied for fifth in runs scored (26). Her eight homeruns were second most in the conference and she was fourth in RBI (35).
Reddinger started out the season as a backup infielder, but moved into a starting role and started the final 25 games of the season. At the plate, she batted .152 (five-of-33) with five runs scored and five RBI. She was tied for fourth on the team in stolen bases with three and had an .897 fielding percentage with 58 putouts and 29 assists.
In addition, look for senior Ashley Pike (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) to make an impact this season. Pike returns to the team this spring after missing the entire 2011 season due to medical reasons. In her last season in 2010, she started all 37 games and had a .264 batting average (32-of-121) with a team-high four homeruns to go along with nine doubles, 10 runs scored and 21 RBI.
In the outfield, all three starters are back in Cooney, senior Marlene Smith (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity) and sophomore Sarah Loyer (Barrie, Ontario/St. Joseph’s).
Cooney started all 43 games and led the team in batting average at .422 (65-of-154). She also led the squad in stolen bases and runs scored with Hiram single-season record marks of 27 and 47 respectively. Her 27 stolen bases this season brings her career mark to 49 which makes her the program’s all-time leader in the category. Her 47 runs and 65 hits were tops in the NCAC, while her 27 stolen bases ranked second most. In addition, Cooney recorded two triples, six doubles and 16 RBI this past season. Defensively, Cooney posted an impressive .979 fielding percentage with 41 putouts, six assists and just one error.
Smith played in all 43 games as a junior and started 42. She ended the 2011 season with a .294 batting average (37-of-126). Smith was tied for fourth in homeruns with four and was fourth in runs scored with 27. She also recorded one triple and four doubles.
Loyer is also one of several talented young players for the Terriers who made an immediate impact as a freshman last year. She started all 42 games she played in while finishing fourth on the team in batting average at .343 (46-of-134). She recorded one triple, four doubles and was tied for fifth in runs scored with 26. Loyer was also second on the team in stolen bases with seven.
In addition, look for junior utility player Kelcie Cuckler (Barberton) to see playing time this spring. As a sophomore, Cuckler played in 33 games and started 27. She posted a .267 batting average (20-of-75) with a homerun, three doubles, 18 runs scored and nine RBI.
The most significant impact for Hiram this season will be at the pitcher position with the loss of All-NCAC hurler Alyssa Lane who led the pitching staff in every statistical category as a freshman while setting school single-season records in appearances (36) and strikeouts (148). She also led the NCAC in wins (17), strikeouts, appearances and was second in innings pitched (155.1) and shutouts (four).
Returning for the Terriers is junior Ashley Hinkle (Parma) and senior Amethyst Brigham (Middlefield).
Hinkle saw the most playing time last season making 11 appearances, including two starts. She had a 3.27 earned run average and was third in strikeouts with 12 in 15 innings pitched.
Brigham pitched in a total of eight games, with three starts, and had a 3.82 ERA. She recorded one save to go along with four strikeouts in seven-and-a-third innings.
“We have six seniors leading us this year,” said Tassey. We’ll also feature a lineup that only has 2 new players in it.”
Hiram will begin its season with its annual trip to Florida. This year, the Terriers will travel to Kissimmee, Fla. and will play against Albion (Mich.) College on Sunday, Mar. 4 at 9 a.m. in the season opener. Hiram will then face Methodist (N.C.) University at 1 p.m.
“This should be a very exciting year in the NCAC, with DePauw entering the conference, and the usual high talent that is in the conference,” said Tassey. “We’re looking forward to getting the season started.”