2004 Season Outlook

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!
    News Update

    January 25, 2004

    Hoosiers Ready for 2004 Season


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    “Even more so than the numbers, our goal is to compete every single day and to go out there with undying determination and leave our hearts on the field. We are going to lay it on the line and see what kind of talent these young faces can bring to the program.”

    It is with this approach in mind that head coach Sara Hayes Nottger will lead the 2004 Indiana softball team onto the field this season. There are goals to be met, experiences to be had and games to win. “This team is determined to do something great this year,” Nottger said. “This team is very passionate; emotional and full of heart. They work hard on the game, their academics and their friendships. I think they bring that passion to the softball field.”

    Strength of Schedule
    The 2004 schedule has the Hoosiers playing some of the top teams in the country in several tournaments including Central Florida, Houston, Southern Illinois, Arizona and San Diego State. “We picked the tournaments this year in order to do two things,” said Nottger. “First is to provide us with experiences against the top teams while second to maintain our confidence level.”

    In the first six weeks of play alone, the Hoosiers face softball powerhouses Central Florida, Nebraska, Arizona, Houston, University of Florida and San Diego State, totaling six schools ranked in the ESPN Top 25 Preseason poll.
    “Florida has a good core of players this year and they are going to be very strong,” said Nottger. “Nebraska could be one of the top five teams in the country. That is where our experience from some of the best of the best will come from.”

    14 of IU’s opponents this year advanced to the 2003 NCAA Tournament including Arizona who advanced to the Women’s College World Series.

    Indiana will host two tournaments in March, the Hoosier Invitational and the IU Classic.

    “In scheduling our home tournaments we tried to draw the best from the Midwest and have them play in a local tournament in order to engage the community in IU Softball. We will also have a chance to see where we stack up regionally.”

    As always, Indiana will face several tough competitors in the non-conference portion of their schedule. They will not have to travel far when they face Evansville, Ball State and Louisville. Also on the schedule are Kentucky and Illinois-Chicago.

    The team will start the Big Ten portion of their schedule on Friday, April 2 in a home contest against Michigan.

    “Going into our Big Ten schedule, our goal is to be at .500 and to finish in the middle of the pack in conference play,” said Nottger. The final game of the season for the Hoosiers will be on May 9, 2004 when they face off against cross-state rival Purdue in West Lafayette.

    The fans attending this year’s IU softball games will be treated to several special promotions during several games. The Hoosiers weekend matchup with Michigan and Bowling Green on April 2-4 will be “T-shirt Weekend”, April 9-11 when the Hoosiers face Iowa and Illinois will be “Alumni and IU Student-Athlete Recognition” and April 30-May 2 will be “High School Weekend” where local high schools will attend IU’s matchups against Penn State and Ohio State

    According to pitching coach Mickey Dean, Indiana’s pitching staff will be a young staff but one full of potential. “They are going to be young in how they throw a game and they are going to make mistakes,” said Dean. “But their potential and their talent level is very, very high.”

    Returning to the mound for the Indiana are senior Heather Stillians (Atascadero, Calif./Atascadero), junior Katie Witham (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and sophomore Megan Roark (Pleasant Hill, Calif./College Park). All three pitchers have had solid experience on the mound and will be counted on to solidify the pitching staff for the Hoosiers. Stillians led the team in 2003 with a 3.09 ERA and a 9-17 record. Witham was the other starter for the team bringing in a 3.80 ERA and a 6-13 record. Roark served as the Hoosiers’ closer, finishing several of their top games includ- ing both Big Ten wins against Michigan State and Purdue.

    The Hoosiers have added several strong, new pitching arms to their staff this season. Under the direction of Dean, the pitching staff has great potential and might just be the key for Indiana this season. Freshman Christy Wahl (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) a highly recruited right hander out of Georgia, is expected to make an immediate impact on the mound and on the team. “Whether she is on the mound or in the dugout supporting the team, Christy is a great leader and a hard-nosed player,” said Nottger. Also joining the staff is NAIA All-American Mariangee Bogado (Mariana, Venezuela/U.E. Milagro de Mario). A transfer from Thomas University in Georgia, Bogado is coming off a year where she pitched 179.2 innings and recorded a 1.10 ERA with 214 strikeouts and only 22 earned runs. Bogado is expected to contribute both on the mound, in the infield and at the plate. Last year, Bogado hit .353 with 65 hits and 44 runs scored.

    Rounding out the newcomers to the pitching staff is walk-on Katie Collins (Morton, Ill./Morton). “Katie has a really dynamic personality and is fun to work with. She is still learning new pitches and will continue to grow and get better with time,” said Dean.

    The outfield will be one of the strongest Indiana softball has seen in several years. Everyone playing there this season have strong throwing arms, good speed and will be able to contribute offensively.

    Senior Val White (Torrance, Calif./North) will return for the Hoosiers and will be looked upon to lead the outfield. According to Nottger, White is a good leader. “We are looking for Val to lead the team offensively with increased power and on base percentage while at the same time solidifying our outfield.”

    Nottger will also likely start two freshmen in the outfield in Kim Richards (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central) and Heather Hohs (Morton Grove, Ill./Niles West). Both freshmen will be counted on not only for their defensive skills but their offensive power as well and may also see time at other positions on the field.

    Rounding out the outfield will be sophomore Abby Page (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central) who Nottger credits with being the fastest on the team. “Abby can flat out fly,” said Nottger. “She prides herself on being the fastest on the team.” Sophomore Lauren Hines (Auburn, Ind./DeKalb) also plays the outfield but will serve as the team’s designated player this year. In 2003, Hines was one of only four freshmen to be named to the All-Big Ten team after hitting .260 with 33 hits, 23 RBI and 18 runs scored.

    The Hoosier infield will be a versatile group in 2004. Offensive production will determine who will start in 2004 at the various positions. “We really don’t have much depth in the infield,” said Nottger. “We are looking for someone to step up and take the lead.”

    At first base, senior transfer from Central Michigan Karly McCormack (Antioch, Calif./Central Michigan) will be looked on to start at first base for the Hoosiers and will make an immediate impact. She is a pure offensive hitter and has a strong, smooth defensive style. Senior Abby Stark (Vancouver, Wash./Central Catholic) should see significant playing time at third base and will be looked to for her leadership and offensive capabilities.

    The middle infield spots are up for grabs. At second, the Hoosiers have junior Ashley Griffiths (Dove Canyon, Calif./Trabuco). Griffiths is a feisty competitor with strong leadership who will be looked on the contribute both defensively and offensively. In addition to their outfield and pitching duties, Richards and Bogado will get some playing time at shortstop. Meghan Connors (Indianapolis, Ind./Aurora University) will also see some time at either of the two spots.

    Catching for the Hoosiers will be sophomore Tory Yamaguchi (Woodland Hills, Calif./Chaminade College Prep) and freshman Rachel Terry (Palatine, Ill./Fremd).

    “Tory is naturally a strong blocker and a framing catcher and she moves well behind the plate, said Nottger. “Rachel has a cannon for an arm and is improving behind the plate. These two are going to be a very exciting group to watch this year.” Both Yamaguchi and Terry may also see some time in the infield.




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