Softball season preview

Photo+courtesy+calvin.edu

Photo courtesy calvin.edu

It is time to prepare your ears for the sweet melody of ball meeting bat. The softball season is set to get underway in a few weeks with a team that has a mix of new and veteran players.

After a season in which the Knights tallied their highest win total since 2005 going 22-15, they will look to transition from a focus on a high scoring offense to one that is not as power-heavy.

Jeff Febus, Calvin sports information director, sat down with second-year head coach Tim Syrek to discuss the upcoming season.

“As you look at our roster this year, we do have nine freshmen and 10 first-year players to go along with our returners,” said Syrek. “We’re excited about them and I think we have a different type of player than we had last year. We hit a lot of home runs and we were a big scoring team in that way, but I think we’re going to have to be a little bit different this year.”

Nine of the 23 home runs hit by Calvin last year came from then senior Lina Avila (she holds the single season record of 11). Other players who graduated last year were Ashley Jakus, who had 15 stolen bases and a .380 batting average, and Caitlin Callow, who had a 2.04 ERA.

This year’s squad will look to capitalize on a more athletic style of play in order to change the culture. “We think we have a little more overall team speed and athleticism,” said Syrek. “We hope that will take part on the defensive end where we can sure up some of our deficiencies last year. We’re really banking on our defense to support our young pitching staff.”

The pitching staff includes three first-year players and one sophomore. The youth on this team should not undercut the presence of sure veterans, however.

The 2015 captains include seniors Christie VanderMeer and Kelsey Pollock, as well as junior Lydia Gildea.

“The three of them really bring three different qualities which is why we thought we needed to select them,” said Syrek.

VanderMeer and Pollock will be part of an athletic outfield and Gildea will be managing the infield from behind the plate. Syrek had this to say of his senior captains: “Christie and Kelsey are behind-the-scenes kids. They work really hard and when they do say something it’s very powerful to our team. They’re the first ones at practice and the last ones to leave, first ones to praise and last ones to criticize.”

The Knights will face a tough conference, in which they were voted to finish fourth in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll.

“[The season] is a grind. That’s what our young kids are going to have to figure out,” said Syrek. “We beat some teams that we weren’t commonly beating last year. We want it to be like that every year. . . we think we’re on our way.”