BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Bemidji State University softball team is under a week away from beginning its 2015 season in West St. Paul, Minn. The Beavers have a wealth of experience returning from a squad that went 11-31 last season. The 11 victories are the most for BSU since the 2006 season when it posted 17 wins.
“I am very excited for the season to begin,” said BSU Head Coach Rick Supinski. “Everyone seems to be on board with what we are trying to accomplish and that is to make the program better.”
The Beavers, who were picked to finish 16th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Preseason Softball Coaches’ poll, return 10 players that saw significant playing time last season and welcome six new players into the fold. The group of returnees are led by Lyndsey Peterson and Jessica Yost who were named players to watch in the NSIC preseason poll. Peterson is BSU’s top returning hitter after pacing the team in batting average (.283), home runs (5) and runs batted in (19) last season. Yost, who also played first base last season, led BSU’s pitching staff with a 5.65 earned run average (ERA) and was tied for the team-lead with 60 strikeouts.
The Beavers return four pitchers that have collegiate pitching experience for 2015, while welcoming one newcomer to the staff. The trio of Danielle Jecmen, Jessica Yost and Allison Roberts all return after accounting for every inning last season for the Beavers. Junior Jenna Massingill, who is coming off an injury in 2014, and freshman Monica Wittner will provide BSU with more options in the circle this season.
“We feel like all of our pitchers give us a chance to be successful,” remarked Supinski. “What we are trying to figure out is what will be the best combination to get us through a game because each one of them gives our opponent a little different look and I think we could use that to our benefit.”
The duo of Mikayla Osterman and Courtney O’Connor, who split time behind the plate in 2014, figure to do the same in 2015. Osterman hit .175 with eight RBI last season, while O’Connor hit .203 with four extra-base hits and six RBI. Defensively, the duo combined to throw out 12 potential base stealers.
“Going into the season both of them realize that they will be splitting time more than likely,” said Supinski. “Both of them have their strengths whether it be calling a game or throwing out potential base stealers so we feel comfortable with either of them behind the plate.”
BSU has three infielders back from the 2014 squad this season in Cassie MacArtur, Jessica Yost and Alayna Krejci. Krejci leads this group after starting all 42 games and leading the team with 31 hits and 13 walks last season. The Beavers will have four newcomers competing for playing time in the infield (Jackie Braiedy, Lexi Ripka, Livia DeSylvester and Erin Robson) with the three returners.
“I like our infield group,” said Supinski. “Everyone can play multiple positions effectively so that gives us flexibility to make sure we have our best nine hitters in the lineup every game.”
Laurel Denney Monica Wittner
Despite losing a pair of outfielders to graduation, the Beavers return three players that saw time in their outfield for 2015. Leading this group is Lyndsey Peterson who paced the team in several offensive categories (batting average, home runs, RBI) last season. In addition to Peterson, Angie Roberts and Kaitlyn Shea also return after stellar freshman campaigns. Roberts, who was BSU’s main center fielder and leadoff hitter in 2014, led the team in doubles (9) and in on-base percentage (.327). Shea’s freshman season was cut to just 11 games due to injury, but when she was healthy the Woodbury, Minn. native produced as she hit .289 with three triples and nine RBI. Competing for playing time in BSU’s outfield along with Peterson, Roberts and Shea will be freshmen Casey Swanson, Laurel Denney and Monica Wittner.
“We have six outfielders on the roster, which gives me a ton of flexibility,” remarked Supinksi. “Even though we have three returners, I think the three newcomers will push them for playing time.”
The Beavers will kick off their 2015 season with four non-conference games at the West St. Paul Dome, Feb. 25-26 against Minnesota State University Moorhead (twice), University of Minnesota Crookston and Minot State University.
For more information on the Bemidji State softball program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers or @Beaver_Softball), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).