The 2003 Indiana University softball season marks a significant new page in the history of the Indiana University softball program. After 15 season with Diane Stephenson at the helm of the Indiana program, the reins have been turned over to Sara Hayes.
The highly energetic, demanding, and competitive Hayes joins the Indiana program after spending the past two seasons as the head coach at Northern Iowa. A former standout at the University of Notre Dame, Hayes, as an assistant coach at DePaul from 1995-00, was instrumental in turning the Blue Devils into one of the nation's elite programs.
The new Hoosier head coach inherits a program that was one of the Big Ten's top programs in the mid-1990s but has struggled as of late. With that said, however, Indiana returns two pitchers who combined to start 31 games one year ago. The IU roster also features nine other position players who played extensively in 2001.
Stark had a tremendous sophomore campaign, hitting a career-high .279, including .243 in Big Ten play. In 129 at-bats, she hit 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, and recorded a team-best 26 RBI.
"Abby is a solid left-handed hitter and a great outfielder. If Abby can find a way to bring more consistency and confidence to the field of play, Abby will do a great job in both aspects."
A strong-armed outfielder, Joy played solid defense in centerfield throughout the 2002 campaign. A good athlete and an improving hitter, she played in 43 of 45 games last spring, including 40 starts. She recorded two doubles in the season finale against Ohio State.
"Katie is a wonderfully hard-working and determined young lady. We need Katie's leadership and communication skills to blossom this year. She is going to be an offensive threat and a solid defender."
A first baseman in 2002, White may see action in the outfield this spring. A solid hitter with excellent defensive ability, she saw action in 39 games last spring with 33 starts. She opened Big Ten play with three hits in eight at-bats against Iowa.
"Val has the quick feet, good hands and a solid bat. She will be an excellent defender, both at first base and outfield. We need her to lead us offensively as well, with consistency at the plate."
Hayes on the Outfield:"Our outfield is very unsettled right now. It's totally up in the air. We are looking to get the best bats in the lineup. It depends on how they respond to us as a staff and execute what we are asking them to do. Katie Joy is going to have a good bat but Katie needs to stabilize herself with the mental part of the game. She needs to be a little bit more confident. She is a leader. She leads mostly by example and needs to lead more verbally. She has to understand that she can do that and has to have the confidence to do that. Abby Stark and Val(erie White) are going to be out there."