2006 Softball Season Preview
Athletics - posted on 3/6/2006
After a sixth-place finish last season in the Lake Michigan Conference, the 2006 Lakeland College softball team hopes to take advantage of its youth to re-establish itself as a conference power this season.
The Muskies have added seven talented freshmen to go along with seven sophomores, one junior and two seniors to field a roster that has a blend of experience and youth.
"I am confident that the program will continue to make strides in the right direction this season," said second-year head coach Chad Buchmann. "We were three outs away from winning half of those games last year, and the ladies now understand what it takes to overcome the grueling season demands."
This year's seniors, co-captains Valerie Barlett (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg) and Monica Hetzel (Hancock/Tri-County), look to provide some stability to this young Muskie team. Last season, Barlett tied for the most hits during the season (35) and did not have a single strikeout in the lead-off position in 107 plate appearances.
Hetzel has played in every position during her career at Lakeland, making her a valuable asset to the squad. "Val (Barlett) was an Honorable Mention All-LMC team member last season. Along with Monica (Hetzel), their senior leadership will be nice to see for our team," said Buchmann.
Katie Yeager (Shawano/Shawano), the team's lone junior, comes off a season where she led the team in slugging percentage (.471), doubles (9), RBI's (21) and triples (3). "Katie has emerged as an unprecedented leader," said Buchmann. "She works well with the pitchers and they have confidence in her ability behind the plate."
A class of seven sophomores, all of which saw significant action last season, look to provide additional leadership for the Muskies this season. "Two of our four co-captains, Allison Lock (Green Bay/G.B. East) and Kourtney Peters (Mishicot/Mishicot), will provide young leadership on our team" said Buchmann.
Peters and Lock will anchor the corners of an infield that returns all four starters from last season.
Sophomore Elisa Waltz (Oakfield/Oakfield), a member of the LMC All-Rookie team and the team's lone First Team All-LMC player last season, will also play a large role again this season for the Muskies.
The bats of sophomores Pam Valukas (Plymouth/Plymouth) and Rebecca Schuettpelz (transfer, Kaukauna/Kaukauna) will also look to pay dividends for a young Muskies line-up this season.
Sophomore Rachel Griesbach (Hortonville/Hortonville), the Muskies other representative to the LMC All-Rookie team in 2005, along with classmate Jenny Zimmerman (Green Bay/G.B. Preble) and freshman Kayla Nissen (Appleton/Appleton East) look to provide a solid pitching rotation for the Muskies.
"While we wait for Rachel to recover from her off-season surgery, Kayla and Jenny will bring the right attitude into the game," said Buchmann. "They know what needs to happen on the mound for the team to be successful this season."
A talented freshman class of six also makes up a large portion of the Muskies roster this year. Besides Nissen, six other freshmen look to contribute this season, including Elena Schatz (Gladstone, Mich./Gladstone), Jesse Van Camp (Green Bay/GB West), Christina Schultz (Appleton/North), Tiffany Gann (Anchorage, Alaska/Barlett) and Nicole Holland (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan).
"All of these freshmen come from championship programs and they should all compete for playing time," said Buchmann. "They will add depth to our infield /outfield, speed on the bases and athleticism to our game. I expect great things from them."
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