The 2014 Hiram College softball season is set to begin on March 10, and Terriers will look to get back to their winning ways this spring and challenge for a spot in the North Athletic Conference Tournament and a possible tournament title.
The 2013 season was a year of growth for the Terriers with a very young roster which was reflected in the final standings as Hiram finished with a 12-24 mark.
“Last year was a year of growth for our team,” said Head Coach Kristin Tassey. “We were extremely young, with six new starters, including a pitching staff made up of entirely first-year players.”
This year, Hiram will return the majority of its players from a year ago and will be led by the duo of senior All-Region shortstop/catcher Jess Bolanz (Randolph/Waterloo) and senior All-NCAC outfielder Sarah Loyer (Barrie, Ontario/St. Joseph’s).
Bolanz led the team in almost every statistical category last spring including: batting average (.429), hits (45), homeruns (nine), triples (two), doubles (14), runs scored (26) and runs batted in (37). Her nine homeruns were a single-season record and she is already the program’s all-time homerun leader with 22. Defensively, Bolanz had a .990 fielding percentage with 172 putouts, 18 assists and just two errors. Following the season, she was a second-team All-NCAC pick and third-team NFCA All-Region.
Loyer became a two-time All-NCAC player last season with her second-team selection after finishing third on the team in hitting with a .329 batting average (23-of-70) in 24 games. She was fifth on the team in runs scored with 17 and also recorded five doubles and three RBI.
“We are led this year by Jess and Sarah,” added Tassey. “Both have been four-year starters for us, and are instrumental in our success this year.”
In addition to Bolanz and Loyer, junior outfielder and two-time All-NCAC award winner Miranda Wright (Richfield/Revere) returns for her third season to help lead the Hiram offense. She was second in hitting last season with a .333 batting average (34-of-102). She was second in runs scored (23), tied for second in doubles (nine) and was third in both homeruns (three) and RBI (17). On defense, she had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage with 39 putouts and three assists.
Other players to watch this season at the infielder positions are juniors Angela Perella (Lyndhurst/Beaumont), Janie Linger (Akron/Firestone) sophomores Nicole Hoy(Brunswick), Jessica Wahl (Akron/Ellet) and Kali Stover (Akron/Coventry). Perella played in all 36 games and started 31. She was fourth on the team in batting average at .307 (27-of-88) and was second in both homeruns (six) and RBI (23). Perella was also tied for third in runs scored with 18. Linger saw playing time in 33 games, including starting 25 games. She batted .205 at the plate (16-of-64) with a pair of homeruns, three doubles, scored 12 runs and had nine RBI. Defensively, she had a .971 fielding percentage with 129 putouts and five assists. Hoy had a solid freshman season starting all 35 games she played in. She was amongst the team leaders in hitting with a .264 average (23-of-87) and hit two doubles, scored nine rus and was fourth in RBI with 14. She was the team leader in stolen bases with four in five total attempts. Wahl also made an impact as a freshman starting all 36 games and had a .301 batting average (34-of-113). She ended the season tied for second in doubles (nine), tied for third in runs scored (18) and was fifth in RBI with 12. Wahl led the team in walks with 17 and had three stolen bases. Stover saw playing time in 23 games and started eight. She had a .156 batting average (five-of-32) with a pair of runs scored and RBI.
The Terriers will also return both of their main pitchers from last season in sophomores Meghan Garland (Mineral Ridge) and Taylor Miller (Kent/Roosevelt). Both ended the season making a team-tying high 29 appearances. Garland matured into being the team’s “ace” by the end of the season and led the team in wins (10), earned run average (6.55), starts (19), complete games (six), shutouts (two), innings pitched (123.2) and strikeouts (68). Miller started 13 of her 29 trips to the mound and pitched four complete games. She ended the season with a pair of victories and struck out 46 batters in 85.1 innings of work. Miller recorded a season-best nine strikeouts in a 5-2 win against Eastern (Mass.) Nazarene University last year in Florida.
“We have our entire pitching staff back from last year,” stated Tassey. “They have an immense amount of experience and know what it takes to be a successful pitcher in the collegiate game. They have worked tirelessly throughout this off-season, and are definitely ready to take the mound.”
Hiram will open the 2014 season with its annual spring trip to Florida. The Terriers will return to Kissimmee, Fla. to take part in the Rebel Spring Games and will begin play on Mar. 10 with matchups against Marietta College and Defiance College. Hiram will remain in Florida through Mar. 15 before returning north to take on Westminster (Pa.) College on Mar. 19 in New Wilmington, Pa. The Terriers are scheduled to play their first home doubleheader on Mar. 22 against Houghton (N.Y.) College. The NCAC schedule will begin on Mar. 29 against Denison University in Granville.
“This team played an extremely hard schedule last year, and that experience has definitely propelled them into this season,” said Tassey.