Bemidji State Softball Outlook
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Bemidji State Softball Outlook

BEMIDJI, Minn. - The Bemidji State University softball team enters a new era in 2012 as Rick Supinski takes over the reigns of the program. Supinski comes to BSU from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine where he was an assistant coach for two seasons. He inherits a team that went 5-27 (4-20 NSIC) last season under Shane Gunderson. Supinski is looking to take the softball program to the next level as he begins his first season with the team. He has a solid foundation to build from as the Beavers return their their two top pitchers, along with four players in the batting order who saw a lot of time last season led by Kayla Babinski (Jr., IF, Devil’s Lake, Min.) the team’s top hitter last season. Babinski, along with Courtney Anderson (Sr., RHP, Virginia, Minn.) were picked as the team’s NSIC Players to Watch prior to the start of the 2012 campaign.

“The thing I like about this level of softball is the dedication of the players,” Rick Supinski said. “There is so much commitment to making this a better product here at Bemidji State. With the new dugouts and everything like that we are really trying to take it to the next level. The players are really buying in to the change we are trying to make. I brought in a lot of hard work, a lot of conditioning and weight lifting.”

Non-Conference Schedule – The Beavers will open the season Tues., February 28 against University of Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State University, Mankato in Vadnais Heights, Minn., before playing a doubleheader against University of Minnesota, Crookston Wed., February 29. The Beavers will then head to Clermont, Fla., for its Spring Break Trip where they are scheduled to play 12 games against 10 different opponents from March 4-9.

“We are to the point where we just need to play games,” Supinski said. “There is not much more we can do in the gym. We are ready, we are primed, we just want to get out and play some games. The trip to Florida is going to be a great opportunity for us to get a lot of games. Every single team in the north now, they have to go south to get games in during this time of year. It was one of the things on my to-do list when I got here, because I knew it was important to get us ready because the conference schedule is so tough.”

Conference Schedule – The Beavers will open their NSIC slate on the road at Wayne State College (Neb.) with four games March 17-18. Bemidji State will host six NSIC home series starting with University of Minnesota Duluth March 31 and April 1. BSU will conclude its home conference schedule May 1 versus Southwest Minnesota State University before finishing the regular season on the road May 5-6 at Northern State University. Winona State is the lone team ranked in NCAA Division II heading into the 2012 season as they are currently No. 23 in the nation.

“We see two or three teams in the NSIC consistently in the top 25 in the nation every year. The quality across the board is great. The pitching is outstanding. We have to work hard at producing runs and adjusting to these pitchers. Courtney Anderson once sat with me and said she lost four or five games by one run. We were in a lot of games, we just couldn’t produce the offense.”

Pitcher - The Bemidji State pitching staff will again be anchored by Anderson. She returns for her senior campaign after going 3-14 with a 3.20 Earned Runs Average (ERA) in 111.2 innings pitched. She struck out 124 batters last season, which was good for third in BSU history for a single-season. Anderson’s name is already etched in the Bemidji State record books as she is second for career strikeouts (310), tied for second for career games pitched (71) and fourth for career innings pitched (353.0).  Also returning to the bump is junior southpaw Kelsey Saralampi (Esko, Minn.) who notched a 2-13 mark and a 6.46 ERA in 90 innings pitched last season.

“Courtney is number two on the strikeout list here and she brings this rise ball that is very sneaky,” Supinski said. “It comes out of the zone enough to get a lot of strikeouts and keep the other team off balance. Kelsey gives us the big look of a lefty coming at you. When you use those two pitchers together it gives you a completely different look that will help keep teams off balance.”

The two veterans will get some aid this season as newcomers Allison Roberts (Fr., RHP, Crystal, Minn.) and Cassie MacArthur (Fr., RHP, Cottage Grove, Minn.) will see time in the Beaver rotation this year.

“We have a luxury at pitcher this season,” Supinski said. “This year we have four pitchers whereas last season we only had two. Allison Roberts and Cassie MacArthur are going to add depth and also add the ability for us to bring in relief late in the games. We will be able to give teams a different look as they start to adjust to our pitcher.”

Catcher - Megan Bergeson (So., New London-Spicer, Minn.) returns behind the plate for the Beavers. The sophomore backstop appeared in 30 games last season. Bergeson hit .190 with four runs scored and two runs batted in last season. Bergeson will also see time in the infield which will allow for Kelly Richards (Fr., Virginia, Minn.) and Katelyn Fondurulia (Jr., Blaine, Minn.) to see time at catcher. Richards caught senior pitcher Courtney Anderson for one season at Virginia High School. Fondurulia comes to BSU from Mesabi Range Community College.

Infield - Bemidji State returns three starters in the infield as Babinski, Crystal Bowen (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) and Megan Beard (Sr., Eveleth, Minn.) all return. Babinski is slated to start at second base. She hit .298 with a .372 slugging percentage and 11 runs batted in to lead all Beavers last season. Beard returns for her second season at short stop, the senior who transferred in from Mesabi Range Community College, hit .260 as a junior with eight runs scored and eight runs batted in. She led the team with six stolen bases. Bowen returns to anchor third base for the Beavers. She hit .227 as a sophomore. MacArthur is the clubhouse leader to step into the first base role, with fellow pitchers Anderson and Saralampi also seeing time.

“Babinski, Beard and Bowen have their starting positions right now at second, short and third,” Supinski said. “Specifically in the middle infield, Kayla and Megan work really well together. They are pretty smooth and are getting better and better.”

Bergeson could also see time at third base and short stop to spell Bowen and Beard, respectively. Freshman Chelsea Tollberg (Fr., North Branch, Minn.) will provide depth at the hot corner behind Bowen.

Outfield – Senior Courtney Loegering (Blaine, Minn.) is the top returner for BSU in the outfield and is slated to be the starter in center field. Loegering hit .250 as a junior and led all Beaver players with 10 runs scored. In addition, she tallied seven RBI and held a .974 fielding percentage with only one error.

Nicole Dupay (Jr., Woodbury, Minn.) appeared in 28 games last season where she hit .143. Newcomer Summer Monsrud (Fr., Bemidji, Minn.) will see time in her first year with the team. Monsrud comes to BSU from Bemidji High School where she was the team’s Most Valuable Player. Hannah Benzie (Jr., Grand Rapids, Minn.) and Fondurulia will provide depth in the outfield this season.

“Courtney is going to anchor our outfield in center,” Supinski said. “At the other positions I’ve fostered a let’s go out and compete attitude. Nicole has done a great job. At the other opening we see Summer coming in, she is a freshman. She is very fast and very athletic. We are going to be able to use her in all three spots in the outfield. Hannah , a transfer, will also see some time out there. There is a lot of innings that can be earned in our outfield right now.”

Coaching Staff – Along with Supinski, BSU’s softball program will be aided by former University of North Dakota softball player Casie Hanson, a graduate assistant with the BSU women’s hockey team who has volunteered to help Supinski in his first season. Hanson was a 2008 Daktronics All-America First Team selection and possessed a career .452 average at UND while breaking the school records for batting average, runs scored, home runs and total bases.