Softball Opens 2016 Season At UNI-Dome Classic

first_imgCEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The Drake University softball team opens the 2016 campaign with five games at the UNI-Dome Classic this weekend. Drake plays Saint Louis in the season-opener on Friday at 5 p.m. before contests against Nebraska and Green Bay on Saturday at 10:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., respectively. The Bulldogs finish their first tournament against South Dakota State and Western Illinois on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Live stats will be available for each game in team’s schedule page on Drake was picked to finish fourth in the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll after winning the 2015 MVC regular season title, their first since the 1993 season. Drake head coach Rich Calvert enters his 14th season at the helm of the program. Calvert has nine returners from last season, led by junior outfielder Megan Sowa (Gurnee, Ill.) and sophomore pitcher Nicole Newman (Madison, Wis.). Sowa hit a team-leading .338 and was named to her second All-MVC squad claiming second team honors in 2015.  Newman was dominant in the circle in her first season going 13-5 with a league-low 1.89 ERA and was named the MVC Freshman of the Year and to the All-MVC First Team. Mariah McKinnon (Oxford, Iowa) is the team’s lone senior in 2016. McKinnon will provide depth in the circle along with serving as one of the team’s utility players. Juniors Ashlie Chambers (Ankeny, Iowa) and Kaitlyn Finneran (Morrison, Ill.) each started all 53 games in 2015 while Maddie Hooyman (Trenton, Mo.) appeared in 35 games. Chambers started every game at the catcher position while Finneran hit two home runs and drew 23 walks. Hooyman was the team’s primary pinch runner and stole four bases and scored 14 runs. Sophomore Kelsey Wright (Olathe, Kan.), who played in all 53 games her first season, primarily at second base and in the leadoff spot in the order. Wright smashed six home runs and drove in 20 runs while drawing a league-leading 36 walks. Also set to enter their second seasons as Bulldogs are Tasha Alexander (Eddyville, Iowa) and Kailee Smith (Murrieta, Calif.). Alexander played in 52 games and batted .252 with nine stolen bases. Smith drove in 11 runs and made eight appearances in the circle. Four freshmen are on the team this season as Kennedy Frank (Chesterfield, Mo.), Gabbie Jonas (Omaha, Neb.), Taryn Pena (Columbia, Ill.) and Melissa Schlotzhauer (Pilot Grove, Mo.) will compete for playing time. Frank, a shortstop for Parkway West High School, was named the Suburban Southwestern Conference Player of the Year as a senior after batting .571 along with swiping 23 bases. Jonas, a catcher and outfielder for Marian High School, led the Crusaders to a runner-up finish at the 2014 Nebraska Class A Softball State Tournament.Pena was a versatile three-sport athlete for Columbia High School, where she played basketball, softball and volleyball and earned letters in all three sports all four seasons. Rounding out the first-year class is Schlotzhauer, who as a senior batted .681 with 41 stolen bases and zero strikeouts, which tied a Missouri Class 1A record for fewest strikeouts and she was selected to the all-state team in each of her final two seasons. Returning on Calvert’s coaching staff are assistant coaches Kasey Griffith and former Drake standout Tina DeAngelo. Back for her second season as a volunteer assistant coach is Cortney Wood, who earned lettered for Drake in 2013 & 2014. The Bulldogs will enjoy a break after their trip Cedar Falls as their next games are scheduled for Feb. 27 & 28 in Fayetteville, Ark. Drake will play two games each against host Arkansas and UMKC. Print Friendly Versionlast_img

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