The Hiram College softball team will look to pick up where it left off a year ago this spring as the Terriers move closer to the start of the 2008 season.
Hiram is coming a record-setting season in which the Terriers won a school record 22 games and finished 22-14 overall and 8-6 in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Hiram also made its first-ever appearance in the conference tournament. In addition to their record single-season win total, the Terriers also set eight team records including hits (340), at-bats (1,045), team batting average (.325), runs scored (204), home runs (eight), doubles (46), runs batted in (174) and team earned run average (2.61). Following the season, five players were named All-NCAC and Head Coach Kristin Tassey was named the conference’s Coach of the Year in her first season at the helm.
“Last season was a great experience for both the players and the program as a whole,” said Tassey. “But there are still areas that we need to improve in and we will work to have an even better season this spring.”
Hiram lost only one player to graduation from last year’s squad in senior All-NCAC pitcher Jenna Nemeth. But she will join the program in a different role this season as an assistant coach.
“Jenna had an outstanding final season,” said Tassey. “She was one of two starting pitchers and will be a tough person to replace. But we are fortunate to have her continue being a part of our program as an assistant coach.”
The Terriers will led this season by a trio of seniors in All-NCAC catcher Mindy Miller (Navarre/Waynedale), pitcher/first baseman Jamie Brown (Louisville) and outfielderRachel Unsinger (Dorset/ Jefferson Area).
Miller earned honorable mention All-NCAC honors for the second time in her career in 2007, finishing the season with a .212 batting average (17-of-80) including a homerun, two doubles, five runs scored and 14 RBI.
Brown saw most of her playing time last year at pitcher making 12 appearances, including one start, and finishing the season with a 4-2 record and a 2.33 earned run average. She was third on the team in strikeouts with 13 in 27 innings of work.
Unsinger played in 19 games primarily in a backup role in the outfield and as a pinch hitter and runner. She ended the 2007 season with a .222 batting average (two-of-nine) with eight runs scored and one RBI. She also stole three bases in four attempts.
“Our seniors will definately be key for us this season,” said Tassey. “We will look for them to provide leadership and help mentor our younger players.”
Hiram will have a strong returning cast this spring led by junior All-NCAC first baseman Chastine Romanello (Phoenix, Ariz./Barry Goldwater), junior All-NCAC shortstopStephanie Zunic (Canfield), and junior All-NCAC outfielder Megan Samuel (Olmsted Falls).
Romanello batted .331 (39-of-118) overall last season and an impressive .391 in conference play. She led the team in RBI, with a Hiram single-season record of 38. Romanello also had two home runs, two triples, six doubles, and 22 runs scored. Following the season, she became a two-time All-Conference award winner earning second-team accolades.
Zunic posted the second best overall batting average in 2007 with an impressive .391 (52-of-133). She set three Hiram single-season records in total hits (52) at-bats (133) and doubles (15). In addition, Zunic led the team in home runs (three), was second in runs scored (30), triples (two), and third in RBI (24). Zunic also stole five bases in nine attempts and had an impressive .958 fielding percentage.
Samuel finished third on the team in overall batting average a year ago at .376 (44-of-117) and batted .419 against conference opponents. She led the team in runs scored (39) and stolen bases (17), both school single-season records and tallied 10 RBI.
Also returning in 2008 is junior second baseman Rosie Frank (Strongsville/ Parma Heights Holy Name), junior All-NCAC utility player Heidi Gipson (Canal Fulton/ Nortwest), sophomore utility player Pamela Spencer (Massillon/Washington), sophomore pitcher/utility player Ashley Crowder (North Lewisburg/Triad) and sophomore pitcher/outfield Whitney Dropsey (Ashland/ Hillsdale) who was named the NCAA Division III “Toughest to Strikeout” last spring having never struck out the entire season.
“We should have a strong team this spring with just about everyone returning,” said Tassey. “The experience that they gained last season will help us be even more competitive this year.”
Joining the Terriers this season are six newcomers in freshmen pitcher/outfielder Sarah Padilla (Ontario, Calif./Colony), catcher/outfielder Jena Ervin (Canfield), first baseman Kayla Flowers (Burghill/ Badger), pitcher Alati Gagne (Gorham, N.H./Gorham), third baseman/utility player Kelly Langland (Batavia/Archbishop McNicholas) and infielder Leah Shema (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin).
“We are glad to have our six newcomers join our program,” said Tassey. “All will be great additions to the team and some could see significant playing time this season.”
The Terriers will officially begin the 2008 season on Sunday, Mar. 9 with a pair of seven-inning games against Anderson (Ind.) University and Ursinus (Pa.) College at the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando, Fla. Hiram will take on Anderson at 9 a.m. followed by Ursinus at 11 a.m.