Indiana Softball Season Preview

    Go Hoosiers! IU head coach Stacey Phillips and the Hoosiers start the 2008 season this weekend in San Diego, Calif.
    Go Hoosiers!
    IU head coach Stacey Phillips and the Hoosiers start the 2008 season this weekend in San Diego, Calif.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 12, 2008

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - As the 2008 season is just a couple days away for the Hoosiers, sat down with head coach Stacey Phillips to get a preview of Indiana Softball and what she is anticipating this year from the team.

    Anchoring the IU defense this season will be redshirt senior catcher Tory Yamaguchi, who hit .295 last year with 12 home runs and 32 RBI. She enters the 2008 season with 33 career home runs, just five shy of the career record at IU.

    "Tory gives us a lot of experience behind the plate and she controls situations, defensively, very well," Phillips said. "She is also going to lead the way for us at the plate. With her leadership we are going to be scoring a lot of runs this year."

    Bloomington native Emily Crohn and freshman Brittany Stein will backup Yamaguchi behind the plate. During the fall and into the spring, Phillips feels both of them have learned a lot from watching and being around Yamaguchi in practice.

    "Both Emily and Brittany will see some time behind the plate this year," Phillips said, "it's important for the future to get them some experience and I know they will be able to handle it. They are both very talented."

    The left side of the infield will also have a lot of experience, with senior Jennilee Huddleston at third base and junior Emily Bergeson at shortstop. Huddleston has started 111 consecutive games for the Hoosiers, 110 at third base, and was the Indiana's leading hitter in 2007 with a .335 average. Kari Bettenbrock is also in the mix at third base and continues to practice well and challenge for playing time at the hot corner.



    "Jennilee is very sure-handed at third base and is quick to the ball on bunts," Phillips said. "With her a third base, it will present a challenge to teams that try to play small ball against us. And Kari is a line-drive, up-the-middle hitter that is capable of getting on base and allowing us to score a lot or runs."

    Bergeson started 50 games last year and made just eight errors at shortstop to pace a Hoosier defense that committed the fewest errors in single season in school history. She also had the second highest on-base percentage at .353 and led the team in walks (20).

    "Emily has always been such a solid defensive player for us because she is a student of the game," Phillips said, "she is almost like another coach out on the field for us. And she has been hitting with so much confidence in practice this year after a lot of hard work."

    The right side of the infield will see four players battling for the two spots. At second base it will be Sarah Padove and Julie DiNallo competing for time. Padove played in 40 games last year and battled through some injuries throughout the year.

    "Sarah gained a lot of experience at second base last year for us and is very strong defensively," Phillips said. "And Julie is also very strong on defense and has come through with some key hits in practice early on, so they are making it a very tough choice for the coaches to decide who will be playing on a daily basis and I don't mind that at all."

    And just like second base, the battle at first base is just as heated between Anna Olson and Stephanie Pellerito. Olson will have her chance to play this year after playing behind Rachel Terry, who graduated after last season. For Pellerito, it will be her first chance at first base after backing up the middle infield positions last year.

    "Anna has more experience at first base for us and does a lot of the little things for us that allow our infield defense to be strong," Phillips said. "Pellerito has great hands after playing the middle infield positions the last two years and was the shortstop for us when we went to the NCAA Tournament in 2006. Again, it will probably come down to whoever is hitting better at the time that will determine who will play."

    The Hoosiers have two pitchers returning from last season, led by junior Monica Wright. Wright threw 241.2 innings a year ago, the seventh most in a single season in IU history. She also pitched 25 complete games with three shutouts and two combined shutouts.

    "Monica is going to be our staple in the circle this year," Phillips said. "She gained so much experience in big games last year, and that is really going to help our team as a whole to have her in there for us."

    Senior Jennifer Moore is the other returning pitcher for the Hoosiers. She made 24 appearances in 2007 for IU after transferring from Volunteer State Community College in Tennessee.

    "Jen has really been coming on in practice lately," Phillips said. "She came back in the fall in great shape and has battled through some adversity that has made her tougher this spring."

    Wright and Moore have been helping the two freshman pitchers, Sara Olson and Alyssa Maiese, make the transition to college softball during the fall season and into the spring practices. Olson, the younger sister of senior Anna Olson, and Maiese were able to gain valuable experience during the fall season and have continued to improve since then.

    "Sara has been able to pinpoint some different things in what she does on the mound that she can work on and will allow her to become a tremendous pitcher at this level," Phillips said. "Alyssa has really been able to focus on becoming a true pitcher and allowing her natural athletic ability to help her succeed in college."

    "Alyssa and Sara are going to get a lot of innings this year," Phillips continued, "to take some of the load off of the veteran pitchers so we can make sure everyone is fresh when we get to the Big Ten schedule."

    Another senior, Julia Hamilton, will patrol centerfield for the Hoosiers this year and also be the leadoff batter to get the offense started. A year ago she led IU in stolen bases with 17 (in 19 attempts) and only committed two errors. At the plate, she had an on-base percentage of .341 and hit three triples to lead Indiana in that category.

    "Julia is one of the fastest players in the Big Ten," Phillips said, "and she tracks balls in the outfield almost better than anyone that I've ever seen."

    The corner outfield spots are once again up for grabs between a handful of players. In left, freshman Brittany Devitt, sophomores Kristin King and Kelli Ritchison are all likely to see time there for the Hoosiers. With Hamilton playing left field a majority of the time last year, all three enter this year with relatively little experience at the position.

    "Devitt is such a powerful hitter with great bat speed and body control in her swing that left field is probably where she will get most of her time this year," Phillips said.

    "Kristin came in as an infielder," Phillips said, "but before the start of the season last year she made the move to the outfield and has taken the opportunity and ran with it. She has improved both offensively and defensively through her work over the summer and has the ability to play all three outfield positions. Kelli has good speed on the bases and has improved offensively and defensively as well. She has the ability to cause a lot of chaos with speed and smarts and that will help her break into the lineup."

    In right field, sophomore Jennifer Glueckert and freshman Karmen Delcamp are positioning themselves for a tough fight for playing time there. Glueckert was solid in the field last year, not committing an error and coming up with one outfield assist.

    "Glueckert has the experience," Phillips said, "but Karmen has been very consistent defensively and has done a lot of the little things that probably won't make the headlines but are putting her in a position to compete for playing time."

    The Hoosiers open the 2008 season this Friday at the San Diego State Campbell-Cartier Tournament against Fresno State and San Diego State. Indiana will then turn around and play UC Santa Barbara and Utah State on Saturday before closing the tournament against Tulsa on Sunday.


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