Although the weather outside may not indicate it, the
Pointers softball team’s season is already underway.
Stevens Point played six games at a tournament this
February in Marquette, Mich. The Pointers finished the tournament 5-1, leaving
Head Coach Jill Millis pleasantly surprised.
“It was great to see how some of the new players handle
the games,” Millis said. “A lot of players performed well, which is good
because we have a lot of people competing for spots in the lineup.”
Last season, Stevens Point finished the year at an
unimpressive 14-24, but senior third baseman Katie Shulfer says that there is
more to that record than meets the eye.
“We lost a lot of close games because we just didn’t
finish,” Shulfer said. “We have worked on getting stronger, which will
hopefully help us finish games this season.”
Coach Millis also cited losing close games as a source
for the poor record.
“I’m thinking that this year we will be on the winning side of those games,”
Both players and coaches for the Pointers have set
expectations for the team’s performance this season.
“There is no reason this team can’t be in the top six
in the conference and make the conference tournament,” Millis said. “We have
talented individuals, and they have been working really hard in the offseason.”
“Our expectations for the season are to get better
every game, compete in our conference and advance as far as we can,” said
junior outfielder Bekah Rennicke.
When asked who has to step up this season in order for
the team to be successful, Millis said that a team effort would be essential
“Everyone up and down the lineup has to step up,”
Millis said. “Last year, we were just inconsistent. We can’t rely on one half
of the order and we can’t rely on one pitcher. There is a reason we put nine on
Stevens Point has plenty of starters returning with
experience. Of the eight players that had 100 at-bats last season, seven return
for the Pointers.
A big part of the returning offense is senior first
baseman Katie Krueger. Krueger started all 38 games for Stevens Point at first
base last season and finished top three on the team in batting average, runs
batted in, hits and slugging percentage.
Pitching ace, senior Michelle Jones hopes to build off
her stellar season last year. She posted a 2.89 earned run average, 102
strikeouts, and ten complete games.
Newcomers will also play a big role for the Pointers,
with one player shining early on in the season.
Freshman pitcher Kali Riddell was named Wisconsin
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference softball pitcher of the week after her
performance in the Pointers’ early season action.
Riddell won all five decisions for Stevens Point,
racking up 24 strikeouts in 26 and 2/3 innings and posting a 2.10 ERA.
The Pointers have everything in place; a solid core of
returning starters to lead the team, some fresh talent, and hard work and
determination to get them far. It’s just about execution now.
“If we all work as hard as we can, there is no reason
we can’t finish on top of this conference,” Krueger said.