- February 16, 2011
- 12:01 am
- Steve Christensen
Softball is off and running
Fresh off of a successful fall season under a new coaching staff, the Loyola University Chicago softball program looks to the 2011 campaign with much optimism. First-year head coach Missy Beseres, who guided her squad to victories over Northwestern, DePaul, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and UIC in the fall, welcomes back 10 letterwinners from last season’s team.
The 2011 Ramblers feature a nice blend of youth and experience and the team returns a pair of All-Horizon League players from a year ago in senior catcher Jenna Grim and sophomore outfielder Brooke Andresen. Grim earned Second Team All-Horizon League honors last spring and tied a Loyola single-season record by belting 11 home runs, while also batting a career-best .328 with seven doubles and 32 RBI.
Andresen, who was named to both the All-Horizon League First Team and All-Newcomer Team as a freshman last spring, burst onto the scene in grand fashion. The left-handed hitter batted a team-high .384 with three home runs, seven doubles, a pair of triples, 21 RBI, and 10 stolen bases, while showing her versatility by playing both the infield and outfield.
Junior infielder Lauren Arceneaux, who played through an assortment of ailments last season, looks to bounce back to her freshman year form when she was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer squad. Despite the injuries last spring, Arceneaux appeared in 42 contests and posted five doubles, a home run, 11 RBI, and 13 stolen bases.
The Rambler offense will also be buoyed by the return of senior Jacqueline Grim, who saw time at both first base and right field, had her best year as a Rambler last season, and set career highs in every offensive category, including batting average (.264), home runs (5) and RBI (17). Senior infielder Bridget Lally started 35 contests, mostly at second base, last year and registered a pair of home runs and seven RBI, while playing solid defense.
Fleet-footed junior Stevie Bradich is one of three other returnees in the outfield. Bradich, who stole 26 bases as a freshman in 2009, swiped 11 bags a year ago and started 38 games. Senior Carly Benford, who drove in four runs and stole four bases in limited action after transferring from Phoenix College, and sophomore Tori Spears, who stole three bases in as many attempts, while seeing most of her action as a pinch runner last season, will also vie for playing time this spring.
Sophomore Lauren Gonzalez saw time at both catcher and designated player last season and batted .231 with a double and pair of RBI and will challenge for playing time at both spots again this year.
The Loyola staff welcomes in a large, but very talented cast of freshmen that have the ability to make immediate contributions this spring. Outfielder Olivia Bell had a standout career at suburban Plainfield South High School, where she batted .495 with eight home runs as a senior, while first baseman Emily Bentley hit a staggering .514 with 40 RBI during her senior campaign at Midland High School in Michigan.
A pair of other slugging infielders will look to crack Loyola’s lineup in 2011. A standout player at Antioch High School in Antioch, Ill., Lauren Moore had a monster senior season in 2010, batting .450 with seven homers and 45 RBI. Lauren Zaworski wrapped up her career with a .377 batting average and graduated as Fremd High School’s all-time leader with 16 home runs and 128 RBI.
Beseres, who was a standout pitcher herself at Penn State, will have a young but talented corps of hurlers this spring. The lone returnee from last season is junior Seana Stillson. The right-hander won three games last spring and tossed a pair of shutouts in her seven starting assignments.
Loyola will rely on a pair of freshman right-handers, Brittany Gardner and Keali Engelkens, who had stellar prep careers, to also provide innings this spring. As a senior at Sandburg High School last season, Gardner went 20-2 with a 0.66 ERA and 222 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Engelkens rolled up a 21-4 record and a 0.81 ERA as a senior at Milledgeville High School in 2010.
“We’ve been very excited and eager about getting the season underway,” Beseres said. “We have been working very hard these last few weeks and are looking to build on the success we had during the fall when we began to make a name for ourselves with some wins over quality opponents.”
The Ramblers who will face the likes of Northwestern, Notre Dame, DePaul, Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana and Wisconsin in non-League action, opened the 2011 season on Thursday, February 10 at the Best Western Marina Grand Invitational in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Click here to see their full schedule.