Spring Hill College head softball coach Alison Sellers Cook opened last season with five freshman and two junior college transfers in the starting lineup. This season, however, the team is more experienced and she's excited to see the results. "We grew up a lot last year," Cook says. "This year we've added more talent and increased our pitching depth. We also have good team chemistry and a nice framework in place to build around."
Senior right handed pitcher Linsey Dickerson of Hurley, Miss., returns for the Badgers where she earned a 2.56 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 2012. She will be joined by three quality hurlers in sophomore Kathryn Ingles from New Orleans, La., who held a 2.45 ERA in 19 starts last year, along with freshmen Caroline Sagrera of Baton Rouge, La., and Sarah Bolotte of Marrero, La.
The Badger infield is anchored behind the plate by sophomore catcher Jade Bourgeois of Geismer, La., who was named to the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) All-Freshman and All-West Division teams in 2012. Bourgeois led the Badgers in virtually every offensive category with 48 total hits, six homeruns, 32 RBI and a .316 batting average. Like Dickerson, Bourgeois was a workhorse last year appearing in all 46 games, but this season she will be joined behind the plate by freshmen Christina Lodato of Tampa, Fla., and Kaitlin Carpenter of Dallas, Texas.
Sophomore Elise deBruler from Luling, La., returns to her natural position of 1st base after being pressed into service at 3rd base in 2012. DeBruler enjoyed a solid freshman campaign and hit at a .279 pace with four homeruns while committing just six errors in 191 chances at 3rd base. The Badger middle infield will feature two newcomers in junior Raleigh Downs from Booneville, Miss., at 2nd base and freshman Sam Leach of Axis, Ala., at shortstop. Freshman Burg Rabe of W.P. Davidson High School in Mobile will see time at both middle infield positions as needed. The "hot corner" at 3rd base will be handled by a committee of players with Sagrera, Ingles and senior Mariha Partman of Biloxi, Miss., rotating on the bag depending upon who is pitching.
The Spring Hill outfield will feature sophomore Taylor Webre also from Luling, La., returning to patrol centerfield where she proved to be a sure-handed fielder with tremendous range as a freshman. Partman will play left field except for the times she is needed at 3rd base when senior Katelyn Hinson of Mobile's Cottage Hill Christian Academy will move from her starting right field position and be replaced by freshman Julia Cieutat of St. Petersburg, Fla.
In 2012, the Partman, Webre and Hinson combined for nine errors and collected 18 assists in 243 fielding opportunities as the Badger outfield developed into a cohesive unit that prided themselves on performing at their best. At the plate, Partman hit .315 and led the team in both runs scored with 33 and stolen bases with 10 while Webre was close behind with eight stolen bases and a .262 batting average. Hinson was a selfless hitter and leads the returning Badger hitters with 10 sacrifices and 31 total hits.
"From a coaching stand point, one the most exciting aspects of this year's team is how interchangeable our players are," says Cook. "Most of our players can affectively play multiple positions and that gives me more flexibility to make situational decisions." Cook is also confident in her team's offensive punch. "We have a good mix of power and hitting for average," she says. "Bourgeois proved she had power last year and Leach is also strong. We relied on moving station-to-station last season, but this year opposing defenses will have to respect both aspects of our game."
Spring Hill opens the 2013 season on Saturday at noon with a non-conference doubleheader versus Millsaps College at Murray Field.