Hoosiers Open 2003 Campaign in New Mexico This Weekend
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Sara Hayes Era Begins Friday For the first time since March 10, 1988, Indiana will play a softball game without Diane Stephenson as its head coach when it takes on San Jose State at the New Mexico State Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M., on Friday, Feb. 14. The first pitch is slated for 2:30 p.m. MT. The Hoosiers will also play Eastern Illinois on the opening day of the tournament.
Hayes takes over the helm of the Indiana program after spending the last two seasons as the head coach at the University of Northern Iowa. As an assistant coach at DePaul from 1995-00, Hayes helped lead the Blue Demons to a 265-97 overall record, which included back-to-back College World Series appearances in 1999 and 2000. She played collegiately at Notre Dame.
Scouting the Opponents Indiana will open the 2003 campaign vs. San Jose State at the New Mexico State Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M., at 2:30 p.m. Friday. By that time, the Spartans will likely have already played five contests. As of February 10, SJSU has recorded a 1-3 record, however, two of the losses, including a 3-1 setback in the season opener, were tallied against California, the 2002 NCAA Champions. In addition to the two losses against the Bears, San Jose State split two games against the University of Tennessee.
At 6:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day, Indiana will play its second game of the day when it faces off against Eastern Illinois. The Panthers are picked to finish fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2003, yet return six starters and an experienced pitching staff from last season's 20-24 team. EIU will play Southwest Texas State earlier in the day on Friday prior to facing the Hoosiers.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, Indiana will face both Marshall and Southwest Texas State. The Thundering Herd is predicted to finish in second place in the MAC Eastern Division in 2003 after compiling an 18-28 record last spring. Southwest Texas State is currently 3-5 on the young season, including wins over Houston and Arkansas. The Bobcats finished the 2002 season with a 37-22 record, after beginning the year 2-8. Bowling Green is picked to finish fourth in the MAC Western Division (22-25-1 in 2002).
IU in Season Openers Indiana has recorded a 19-9-1 all-time record in season openers, with the only tie coming last year when the Hoosiers tied the University of Mexico, 2-2, in Albuquerque.
Head Coaches in their first game at IU Indiana's four previous head coaches are a combined 2-2 in the opening game of their respective head coaching careers at IU. Jenny Johnson lost a 13-11 decision to Northern Illinois in 1974, which was the first varsity game in the history of the school. In 1977, Ann Lawver won her first game as Indiana's head softball coach as she led the Hoosiers to an 18-11 victory over Rutgers. Coincidentally, Gayle Blevins and Diane Stephenson both opener their careers vs. Sam Houston State, with Blevins suffering a 3-2 loss in 1980 and Stephenson leading the Hoosiers to a 3-1 win in 1988.
IU vs. New Mexico State Tournament Opponents Indiana has recorded a 30-15 all-time record vs. the teams against whom it will play in Las Cruces this weekend. IU has recorded a 26-14 record vs. Eastern Illinois in 30 prior meetings and a 3-0 mark vs. Bowling Green. Indiana defeated San Jose State, 6-0, in 1989 during the only meeting between the two teams and the Hoosiers fell to Marshall, 4-3, in 1996 in the only meeting between those two schools. IU has never met SW Texas State in softball.
A Look Back at 2002 The 2002 softball campaign closed the books on the Diane Stephenson Era at Indiana University. Although Indiana had the offensive firepower to compete with just about anyone, inconsistent pitching and untimely defensive miscues haunted the Hoosiers throughout most of the campaign.
Indiana showed the ability to hit the long ball throughout the year as its 26 home runs as a team was the third-best total in school history. Remarkably, eight different IU players recorded home runs. Indiana's run production in 2002 was its highest total since 1997.
With its increased production, Indiana often found itself in tight games throughout the year but suffered a number of late-inning defensive collapses that cost the Hoosiers a number of victories.
The season, however, wasn't without its bright spots.
Indiana defeated two eventual NCAA Tournament participants, a 5-4 victory over Boston University at Fresno State and a 6-3 win over the Purple Aces of the University of Evansville.
It was, however, close losses that defined Indiana's season. Indiana lost one-run games to both Ohio State and Michigan during the Big Ten campaign, both of whom made the NCAA Tournament. Michigan would go on to make the Women's College World Series. At the Fresno State Invitational in March, the Hoosiers lost 2-1 to Cal Poly and suffered a 2-1 (9 inn.) setback against San Diego State.
After earning a tie and a win vs. New Mexico to begin the 2002 campaign, Indiana lost its next seven contests before winning seven of its next 10 games, including a doubleheader sweep at Bradley and wins over Northern Illinois, Ball State, Valparaiso, Loyola (Chicago), and Butler.
Individually, senior Brooke Monroe capped a stellar career by earning third-team All-Big Ten honors as a utility player as she hit .306 in Big Ten play, to go along with three home runs and four doubles. Monroe saw action at catcher, third base, and shortstop.
During her career, Monroe earned 1st-team All-Big Ten honors at catcher in '01. In addition, she finished fourth on Indiana's career home run list (24) and fifth on the career RBI list with 94.
Other seniors included pitcher Alison Cooke and outfielder Monique Bullock. Cooke finished her career ranked third on Indiana's career strikeouts list with 258. She threw a no-hitter vs. Miami (Ohio) in 2001.
IU Roster Breakdown
The Indiana roster breakdown by class and by state is as follows:
Roster By Class Senior (3)
Stormy Hanson, Katie Joy, Heather Suca
Kristine Dugan, Dawn Ramynke, Abby Stark, Heather Stillians, Valerie White
Roster By State Alabama (1): Katie Joy; Arizona (1): Katie Witham; California (5): Ashley Griffiths, Dawn Raymynke, Megan Roark, Heather Stillians, Valerie White; Illinois (1): Heather Suca; Indiana (3): Abby Ellis, Lauren Hines, Abby Page; Nevada (2): Kristine Dugan, Stormy Hanson; Washington (1): Abby Stark.
The IU Assistant Coaches
First-year head coach Sara Hayes' staff will include Mickey Dean and Kathy Morton.
Dean is entering his first season in Bloomington after spending the 2002 season as the top assistant at the University of Akron. Prior to his stint in the Mid-American Conference, Dean led Lake City (Fla.) Community College to the 2001 NJCAA National Championship. Prior to Lake City, Dean guided Orange County (Va.) High School to back-to-back AA state championships in 1998 and 1999. He is an assistant coach on the Venezuelan National Team.
Kathy Morton is also in her first season as a member of the Indiana coaching staff after spending the 2001 and 2002 seasons as an assistant at the University of Florida. She was a two-time All-America outfielder at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Academic Success In 2001, eight Indiana softball players earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, tying the highest number in IU softball history. Katie Joy, Abby Stark, Heather Suca, and Valerie White are all returning Academic All-Big Ten performers.
Hanson Moving Behind the Dish After primarily playing at third base for most of the 2002 season, senior Stormy Hanson (Las Vegas, Nev./Silverado) moves behind the plate in 2003 as she replaces 2001 first-team All-Big Ten catcher Brooke Monroe, who earned third-team honors as a utility player last spring.
Along with the departed Monroe, Hanson was the most productive offensive threat for the Hoosiers in 2002. She led IU in batting average (.355), runs (27), slugging percentage (.616), on-base percentage (.412), and hits (49) and was second on the team in doubles (11). She also hit a career-high seven home runs.
"Stormy is one of the most dynamic, passionate and determined student-athletes I have ever had a pleasure to work with," said Hayes. "The leadership the she provides is like us having an assistant coach on the playing field."
Inside the Circle Despite the graduation loss of Alison Cooke, who is fourth on Indiana's career appearances list with 103, the Hoosiers return two starters who both pitched extensively in 2001-02. Pitching coach Mickey Dean will look to junior Heather Stillians (Atascadero, Calif./Atascadero) and sophomore Katie Witham (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) who return in 2003 and will be joined by freshman Megan Roark (Pleasant Hill, Calif./College Park). Stillians is also expected to contribute offensively.
One year ago, the 5-foot-10 Stillians appeared in 20 games, recording a 6-9 overall record and a 3.71 earned run average. She allowed 112 hits and struck out 38 opponent hitters in 88 2/3 innings of work.
"Heather is hard working and powerful, said Hayes. "She has the potential to be an All-Big Ten athlete as a pitcher and a hitter. We are looking for Heather to make an impact with her strength and power this year."
Along with her impressive her size, Stillians is a crafty righthander who has had successfully mixed pitches and kept hitters off balance. One year ago, she proved that she could be successful against some of the nation's top teams. Last spring, she defeated eventual NCAA tournament participant Boston University at the Fresno State Invitational as she allowed only six hits and three earned runs is a 5-4 victory. At the same tournament, she handcuffed a solid San Diego State club as she allowed only seven hits and one earned run in nine innings pitched, despite suffering a 2-1 loss.
Witham will join Stillians in the circle. As a true freshman in 2001, the 5-foot-11 righthander led the Hoosiers with a 3.32 earned run average and tied Stillians for the team lead in victories with six (6-10 overall record). In 28 appearances (21 starts) she allowed 142 hits and 51 earned runs in 107 2/3 innings pitched. She walked 37 and struck out 27. After struggling with her control early in the season, she greatly improved as the season progressed.
"Katie is one of the funniest and hardest-working student-athletes on our team," said Hayes. "She does a great job on the mound, and will continue to increase her level of power and consistency with Coach (Mickey) Dean's program."
An Experienced Infield In addition to Hanson, Indiana will also feature several other infielders who played extensively in 2002. Senior Heather Suca (Shorewood, Ill./Joliet West) started 43 games in 2002, almost all at second base. The 4-foot-9 Suca is a solid defensive player who is highly competitive by nature. She recorded a career-high batting average of .237 and notched seven extra-base hits in 114 at-bats, including four doubles, two triples and a home run.
"Heather has the heart of a lion and good vision for what she is doing as an athlete and a student," said Hayes. "She is a wonderful leader for our young team to follow. She has quick feet and great hands, making her an impact player at second base."
Kristine Dugan (Las Vegas, Nev./Taft J.C.) transferred to IU for the 2002 spring semester and went on to start over 30 games at shortstop. She also saw limited action at second base. While only hitting .157, she displayed solid power with three home runs. She also drove in 10 runs and her defense improved throughout the season as she became acclimated to Big Ten-caliber play.
"With Kristine increasing her confidence level, she will be a solid defender and a great hitter. She is a hard-nosed player who understands what we need to have happen for this team to play at a higher level."
In addition to Hanson, Suca, and Dugan, juniors Dawn Ramynke (Placentia, Calif./Sonora), Heather Stillians (Atascadero, Calif. /Atascadero), Ashley White (Torrance, Calif./North) all saw action at first base last season. Stillians will be one of Indiana's primary pitchers.
Roaming the Outfield Two-thirds of Indiana's starting outfield returns from one year ago while a number of newcomers and returning players will look to challenge for extensive playing time. The Hoosiers return two experienced outfielders in senior Katie Joy (Pell City, Ala./Pell City) and junior Abby Stark (Vancouver, Wash./Central Catholic). Sophomore Ashley Griffiths, along with juniors Heather Stillians and Valerie White have the ability to play both infield and outfield. The four returning players will be joined by freshman Abby Page (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central), who along with White, hits from the left side of the plate.
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."
A Closer Look at the 2003 Schedule Following the New Mexico State tournament, the Hoosiers will travel to Tampa, Fla., to participate at the University of South Florida Tournament (other tournament teams: Maryland, Hofstra, Seton Hall, South Florida, Radford). Indiana will also compete in tournaments at the University of Louisville (Kent State, Louisville, Miami of Ohio) and Charleston Southern (Furman, Stony Brook, Savannah State, Central Florida).
Indiana will also compete against several other non-conference opponents before entering play in the rugged Big Ten Conference. The Hoosiers will face mid-week non-conference opponents Wright State, Louisville, Kentucky, Evansville, and Ball State. Evansville, with whom Indiana split a doubleheader in 2002, earned an NCAA Tournament bid last spring.
Hayes on the 2003 Schedule "We're going to see a good combination of teams. The preseason tournaments should always provide us an opportunity to maintain a level of confidence, while exposing our team to the top teams in the country to prepare for the Big Ten. I think the schedule that was put together allows us to do that, while at this time focusing on maintaining a level of confidence. That's what this team needs. We will see a number of good ball teams that will be ranked in the top 25. That will be fun. What we're looking for out of the team is consistency and appropriate focus."
Softball on the Web IU softball information may be accessed at iuhoosiers.com. Also, Big Ten softball information may be retrieved at www.bigten.org and collegiate softball information may be located at www.nfca.org, which is the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's web site, and www.ncaa.org.
A Power Surge Despite last season's struggles, Indiana did notch 26 home runs, which was the third-highest total in school history. Among returning players, Stormy Hanson (7), Heather Stillians (3), Kristine Dugan (3), Dawn Ramynke (2), Abby Stark (2), Heather Suca (1), and Ashley Griffiths (1) all recorded home runs last spring.
The Indiana Hoosiers Softball Philosophy Provide an empowering environment within which student-athletes have the opportunity to excel academically, achieve athletically, experience great things on and off the field of play, and grow into themselves in healthy, safe environment.
Hoosier Staff Goals The Hoosier Staff Goals are as follows...
Graduate ALL Indiana Softball Players
Win a National Championship
Win a Big Ten Championship
Secure No. 1 Recruiting Class in the Nation
Earn 3.2 Cumulative Grade Point Average
Cultivate Alumni and Friends
Moving up the Career Charts The following individuals will have an opportunity to move into IU's top 10 career lists:
With 21 career doubles, senior third baseman Stormy Hanson needs seven two-baggers to move into 10th-place tie with Kara Manley (1991-94) on the career doubles list.
Senior infielder Heather Suca needs to draw 28 walks to move into a fifth-place tie with Amy Lonigro (1994-97) on the career walks list with 68.