2010 Indiana Softball Season Preview

    Go Hoosiers! Head Coach Michelle Gardner is entering her second season in Bloomington.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Head Coach Michelle Gardner is entering her second season in Bloomington.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 9, 2010

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana softball head coach Michelle Gardner enters her second season leading the Cream and Crimson and will look to blend a solid core of young talent with a handful of upperclassmen that gained some valuable experience last season. Gardner came to Bloomington last year after spending the previous six seasons at the University of Nevada where she led the Wolfpack to two Conference Championships and a pair of NCAA Regional appearances. In an effort to get the Hoosiers back into the top of the Big Ten as well as competing in the postseason Gardner has high expectations for this talented group.

    In her first season, Gardner and the Hoosiers played one of the toughest schedules in the country and placed a pair of players on the Third Team All-Big Ten team at the end of the year, marking the first time since 2006 season that IU had a player on the postseason all-conference team. This season, Indiana will continue to push forward with another tough preseason schedule in preparation for the Big Ten season. Without a doubt the talented newcomers and solid core of upperclassmen are very eager to come in and compete right from the start.

    Here is a position-by-position look at the 2010 Indiana softball team:

    The pitching staff will be anchored by junior Sara Olson, who has over 230 innings to her credit entering this season, and will be looked upon to consume a bulk of the innings this season. She lowered her ERA by over a run and a half from her freshman year to her sophomore year, the biggest drop in the Big Ten among regular pitchers. Last year, she also tossed a no-hitter against Ohio State at home, the first one by an IU pitcher since Mariangee Bogado in 2006.



    Joining Olson will be redshirt senior Monica Wright, who missed nearly all of 2009 with an injury. As a junior in 2008, Wright was the workhorse on the team as she tossed 182.1 innings and picked up 12 victories, easily the most on the team in both categories.

    New to the staff is a pair of freshmen from the state of Indiana, Jessica Dobson (St. John) and Cassie Loweth (Columbus). Dobson was a first team all-state honoree last year and holds school records for strikeouts in a game and in a season. Loweth had a career ERA under 1.00 could also see time at first base this year for the Hoosiers.

    Juniors Brittany Stein and Cassie Gogreve will handle a majority of the catching duties this season, with Bridget Langan and Katherine Allert adding depth to the position. Stein started 43 games last year and committed just four errors while also slamming five home runs, third-most on the team. Three of her home runs came in a five-game span at the DeMarini Invitational in Fullerton, Calif.

    Gogreve played at the University of South Carolina her first two season before transferring to IU prior to the start of her junior season. She hit .306 in 19 games as a freshman and then did not commit an error in limited action last year with the Gamecocks.

    Langan, one of the more vocal leaders of the team, is another option behind the plate. She has experience not only behind the plate but also at first base and could be a definite offensive threat. Allert who also has experience behind the plate, led Lowell (Ind.) High School in home runs, doubles and RBI's her first two seasons.

    The first base position will be occupied by a number of different players this year, including Olson, Stein, Amanda Wagner, Bridget Langan and Stephanie Turner. Olson played first base on occasion as a sophomore to keep her potent bat in the lineup and provide some pop in the middle of the order when she was not pitching. Stein, like Olson, can provide power in the middle of the lineup and could play first base if she is not behind the plate. Last year, the two combined for 11 home runs and 33 runs batted in so their offense is key for the Hoosiers.

    Wagner will have opportunities at both corner infield positions, being solid defensively with a tremendous amount of offensive power.

    At second base, Samantha Berenter is the leading candidate to get the start at the beginning of the season after transitioning from third base a year ago. At third base last season, she committed just four errors while getting off to a good start to the season with a home run against UCLA in the first weekend of the season.

    Joining Berenter at second base will be utility player Kristin King. King also played at third base last season and made a dramatic improvement at the plate over the final month of the season. In her first career start at third base, she drilled a double and the game-winning RBI at Michigan State to give the Hoosiers a weekend sweep of the Spartans.

    The shortstop position will see a new face in 2010 after the graduation of three-year starter and 2009 All-Big Ten Third Team member, Emily Bergeson. Freshman Breanna Saucedo has shown tremendous promise not only is she triple-threat at the plate, but she has the potential to be one of the strongest defensive players in the Big Ten.

    Another option for any infield position could be freshman Madison Diederich. Diederich is another extremely talented and athletic newcomer to the Hoosiers.

    A pair of freshman, Wagner and Maria Gillis, will battle it out for playing time at third base to start the season. Wagner can provide some pop in the middle of the order as she drove in 41 runs and hit seven home runs in high school. Gillis hit close to .500 her last two years at John Adams High School in South Bend, Ind., while also leading the team in RBIs and home runs.

    The outfield has three returning starters in the form of Heather Nelson, Kelli Ritchison and Kelsey Stander . Nelson has good speed and a strong arm and was the leading hitter among the freshman class last season. She was also third on the team with 14 runs scored and second in walks with 18.

    Ritchison, who had the longest hitting streak of the season last year, has always been a steady player in the field, sporting a .963 career fielding percentage.

    Stander also possesses speed that is very effective both in the outfield and at the plate. She led all outfielders on the team last year with four assists and paced the team with six sacrifice hits. She will be in her second year at IU and has been successful in 25 out of 26 stolen base attempts.

    Freshman Samantha Heyman is expected to be the starting center fielder and will use her speed and athletic ability to her advantage in the outfield.

    Another option in the outfield with a great deal of experience would be Jennifer Glueckert. Gluckert proved to be a steady offensive player, as she was second on team in batting average and doubles. Her four triples were tied for the most in the Big Ten Conference and the most for an IU player since Khara Good had six in 1999.

    Freshmen Chelsea Noble and Kelsey Brannon have been gaining valuable experience and have the ability to play any of the three outfield spots. Both of these athletes have the speed to contribute on the base paths.

    The schedule includes trips to ten different states and 20 games against teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last year as well as the return of the IU Classic in late March.

    "This year we will be going to a couple different tournaments than what we have in the past, and we will be playing some new teams as well," said Gardner.

    "Our preseason tournaments are tough and will definitely have us ready for Big Ten play later in the year. And after a year off, we are very excited to have the IU Classic back on the schedule with a couple good teams in Central Michigan and SIU - Edwardsville coming to Bloomington to open the home portion of our schedule."

    The first five weekends of the season will see the Hoosiers travel to five different states for weekend tournaments before the IU Classic on March 20 and 21.

    In conference play, Indiana will travel to Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue while Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Northwestern and Penn State all pay visits to Bloomington.


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