BSU Opens up 2004 Season at NDSU & NSIC Tourney
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Games this Week
The Bemidji State softball team will open up the 2004 season with a twinbill against No. 10 North Dakota State, Thursday, April 1. Start-time is 3:00 p.m. from the Ellig Sports Complex in Fargo, N.D. BSU was scheduled to partake in the Northwest Missouri State Tournament, Mar. 27-28, but wet field conditions canceled the event.

BSU will get its Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference portion underway this weekend, April 3-4 with an appearance at the NSIC Crossover inWayne, Neb. The Beavers face five of the eight NSIC teams, including first-place Winona State on Sunday and host-Wayne State on Saturday.

Beaver News & Notes
The April 1 opener to the season is the latest start-date since BSU lost a 7-6 decision to Mayville State, April 10, 1996...In all-time season-openers, BSU is 5-16 going 2-11 in the last 13 lid-lifters...Two returners (Lauren Wilson and Leah Bowen) were on the 2003 All-NSIC Honorable Mention Team...BSU was picked to finish sixth in the Preseason NSIC Coaches Poll...The top returning hitter (min. 50 AB’s) is Lauren Wilson at .224 and the top returning pitcher is Leah Bowen with a 2-5 record and 5.97 ERA...The last time BSU hit .300 or better was against Minnesota-Crookston, April 15, 2003 when it went for .300 - a span of 15 games...The 2003 season-high for runs was 12 against UM-Crookston, April 15, 2003...The Beavers pounded out 10 hits or more in six games last season with four of those occuring in the first nine games.

Series History
Against the Bison, BSU is 16-35 all-time having dropped the last 15 contests. The last BSU win came during the 1997 season. SW Minnesota State stands 34-14 against BSU winning five consecutive in the series. Against Wayne State, BSU is 3-8 with two of those wins coming last season. The Wildcats ended BSU’s season with a 4-3 defeat in the 2003 NSIC Tournament. BSU is 15-28 against Winona State overall and records a 3-9 mark against Concordia-St. Paul losing the last eight meetings. The Beavers are 23-10 against Northern State.

What to Look For in 2004
The Bemidji State University softball team, which finished 9-14 overall last year and sixth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings, will be looking towards the 2004 season with lots of youth and high hopes. Of the six letter winners returning, five of them are either juniors or seniors. However, of the other eight on the line-up card, four will be in their first season at BSU.

Four players from the 2003 club, including the top hitter and pitcher in Katie Hurst, are lost to graduation. Head coach Amanda Went feels that it will be a tough job to fill those holes but the second-year general remains optimistic.

“We lost four seniors and somehow we have to fill those positions,” said Went. “I think the girls are ready and have caught on to the fact that they have to fill those voids. Thus far, some of the underclassmen have stepped up and taken on a bigger role.”

Pitching
The Beaver pitching corps will have to deal with the exit of senior Katie Hurst. Hurst finished her BSU career second with 287 strikeouts and third in innings pitched (390.2) and wins (24). One player to pick up the slack will be senior Leah Bowen. Holding down a 4-12 career record, Bowen was selected as a 2004 NSIC Pitcher to Watch. She had eight complete games while holding down a 2-5 record in 2003.
“Bowen has become committed to focus on her pitching and fill the void of Hurst,” said Went. “I expect very good things from her this season.”

Junior college transfer Katie McKenzie looks to bolster BSU pitching after a successful fall on the BSU volleyball team. McKenzie, who was first among all BSU volleyball newcomers in digs per game (1.59), was a two-year letter winner for the Hibbing Community College Cardinal softball squad.

“Pitching looks good right now,” said Went. “(Assistant coach) Jen Anderson has done a very good job with Leah and Katie. I feel McKenzie has made strides since moving into a pitchers role and making it her focus.”

Catching
One shake-up at the catchers position will move senior Jenna Grimsrud from the outfield to behind the dish. Last season, Grimsrud batted .280 in 10 games while mostly playing outfield. Coach Went feels Grimsrud can be better utilized with her catching skills.

“I wanted her to be on the field and this position was the best that I can use her for. She has a lot of skills and is very athletic.”

The Infield
Junior shortstop Lauren Wilson brings a steady glove in the field and consistent eye at the dish. Wilson, who is a 2004 NSIC Player to Watch, tied for the team-lead with 76 at-bats last season. A two-year starter at shortstop, Wilson has started in all 55 games in her career. Last season, Wilson led the team with 58 defensive assists, tied for tops with four base on balls and tied for second with 10 runs scored. On defense, Wilson held a 88.9 fielding percentage.

“Wilson has probably come in to the preseason in the best shape of her life,” said Went. “She has matured and been very good in taking the team under her wing and being a leader.”

Junior Jamie Fisher has solidified her spot at first base after playing at the catcher position a year ago. Fisher made 46 plate appearances in 2003, third among all returners, as she posted seven runs-batted-in, one homerun and had a .982 fielding percentage.

“I moved Fisher over to first because she is familiar with the position after playing there all through high school,” said Went. “She knows the game very well.”

The Outfield
Five players will battle for three outfield spots this spring. Bowen, who brings a veteran attitude with 171 career plate appearances, doubles up her pitching duties with filling in at the centerfield position. The member of the 2003 All-NSIC Honorable Mention Team had 68 at-bats last season and recorded 14 hits, seven runs scored and a .206 batting average. She was second on the team in 2003 with 10 RBI’s and picked up her second career home run against Concordia-St. Paul, Apr. 12, 2003.

Sophomore Megan Woslager bring a touch of experience with starting in 10 games last spring. According to Went, she “has very good instincts and reads the ball well at the outfield position.”

Head Coach Amanda Went
Amanda Went became the 11th softball coach in school history, Sept. 12, 2002. A assistant women’s basketball coach, Went led her 2003 team to a 9-14 overall record in her rookie campaign. She mentored three All-NSIC performers and took her team to the sixth-spot in the NSIC rankings.
Went, who is assisted by first year coach Jennifer Anderson, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska in 2001. The four-year Nebraska basketball letterwinner spent one season prior to her BSU arrival as a basketball graduate assistant at Nebraska-Kearney.

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