Softball team primed for encore
Last year, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team did something it had never done before - win a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoff game. So what can the Mountain Lions and coach Scott Peterson do for an encore?
Win more than one. Maybe a lot more.
"Our No. 1 goal every year is to win the conference," said Peterson. "This year, we have a better chance to do it than any year since I've been here. This team can go a long way."
A look at the returning roster would be enough to justify that confidence. Back is Brittni Carlson, who was the RMAC co-freshman of the year as well as an All-Region selection. All Carlson did last year was hit .389, third best in the conference, while leading the Mountain Lions with five home runs and 34 RBI.
"She was working with (Colorado Rockies hitting coach) Alan Cockrell the other day and he said Brittni stays on the ball better than some of the guys he's worked with," said Peterson.
But that's just the beginning. Also back are three other All-RMAC performers, second baseman Kara Rainey (.298), shortstop Jennifer Dykstra (.347) and pitcher Amber Colton (8-8, 2.60 ERA). All three are juniors
Add to that a defensive whiz in center field, junior Charlene Berg, who also hit .280 with a .439 slugging percentage, and junior Sarah Wodniak, a .289 hitter who started 43 games in right field last year. All five juniors have been starters since their freshman season. The Mountain Lions also return sophomore Stacy Oldham, who started part of last season at third base.
"We're mature now, finally," said Peterson. "That extra year's going to help us."
With so much returning talent, what else could Peterson do? He added to it.
Tops among the freshmen is Lindsay Shandera, who was also recruited by Division I Washington. Shadera has first-rate bat speed, but has raised the most eyebrows with her play at first base.
"Defensively, I don't think she has an equal in this conference," said Peterson.
The problem, though, is that first base is where Carlson played last year.
"(Carlson) came to me and said, "˜coach, Lindsay is better at first base, I'm ready to go to the outfield,'" said Peterson. "(Carlson) is the epitome of a team player. It makes us pretty proud to have somebody like that around here."
With first base settled and his All-Region star safely moved to the outfield, Peterson turned his attention to pitching.
"When Amber Colton's on her game, she can dominate," said Peterson. "She throws extremely hard, she's aggressive, and she can carry us as long as she stays healthy."
But with Katrina Maestas, who posted a 10-12 record last year, out for the season, Peterson needed a complement for Colton. He found just needed with Otero Junior College transfer Brenna Pool.
Pool posted a 20-5 record with a 1.68 ERA while also hitting .291 for the JuCo powerhouse last season. Besides pitching, Peterson expects Pool to contribute at third base as well.
"Brenna Pool is a baseball player playing softball," said Peterson. "She loves the game. She could probably play all nine positions."
But Peterson's biggest addition came at catcher. Crystal Krebs, a transfer from Division I Texas-Arlington, has All-American written all over her.
"She hasn't done anything here yet, but we probably have higher expectations of her than we've had of any player who's come through here," said Peterson. "Her throw from home to second is faster than anybody I've clocked in 14 years of coaching. She's going to hit a ton of home runs and drive in a ton of runs."
Krebs' impact will be felt not only in her own production, but also on how other teams have to adjust to her presence.
"(Opponents) can't pitch around Brittni (Carlson) anymore. Last year, we'd get into the big games and Brittni would get walked," said Peterson. "Now, they can't walk her. They're going to look in the batter's box and there's Crystal Krebs standing there, swinging that club of hers."
Sonia Reyes, a transfer from Arapahoe Junior College, will back up at second base, shortstop and third base. She has a live bat and a good eye, which will land her playing time at DH as well.
Megan Cushman, a freshman from Alaska, will compete in right field. Another freshman, Colorado Springs-grown Liz Hahn, will back up at first base and provide hitting off the bench.
With such formidable talent on hand, Peterson and the Mountain Lions are primed for a command performance. And wouldn't a conference title make a fine encore?
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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|October 18, 2004||Renovation of softball field begins||The first step of what promises to be a major upgrade of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball facility began Monday when team members began painting the bleachers at what used to be Four-Diamonds Sports Complex's Red Field.|
|September 30, 2004||Fall ball shows that Lions are loaded||Collegiate softball's fall season operates much like pro football's preseason. The games don't count in the standings, so the primary goal is to evaluate talent for the upcoming spring season. After 17 games of evaluation, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs can be assured of one thing concerning its 2005 softball team.|
|June 2, 2004||Softball finishes 10th nationally||To the long string of firsts attained by the 2004 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team, add one more.A Top-10 national ranking.The Mountain Lions finished the season ranked 10th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II poll, which was released Wednesday. The NFCA is responsible for the official softball rankings of the NCAA.CU-Colorado Springs was unranked until the final poll. The Mountain Lions, however, gained national notice by knocking off three nationally ranked teams at the South Central regional tournament on their way to a second-place finish. That the South Central regional winner, Angelo State, went on to win the national championship also helped CU-Colorado Springs in the voting.|
|May 17, 2004||Powerful recruiting class bolsters Mountain Lions||If the coaches in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and the Southwest Region thought the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' run to the RMAC title and the regional championship game was a one-time fluke, they'll need to reevaluate that assessment. Not only did the Mountain Lions graduate no seniors, but they also will get back a star pitcher and have signed one of the strongest recruiting classes in school history.|