Softball to begin new season

By Khobi Price

DeKALB — The softball team will commence their 2018 season Friday after coming off their second consecutive 30-plus win season.

“I’m pretty excited to get going,” said Head Coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We’ve got the core group back, so we should be ready to go. We have our pitching staff back as well, and defensively, we should be really strong.”

The Huskies will return 15 of its players from the 2017 season. Sutcliffe said the seniority of the team should be beneficial, as the roster includes a majority of experienced upperclassmen.

“In theory it should be great because they have the experience underneath them,” Sutcliffe said. “I think everyone’s usually a little shaky the first week because you haven’t had the consistency of being outside. Obviously we lost some key starters from last year, but we’re hoping to fill those spots and split the RBI’s among our roster.”

The Huskies will face challenges in having to replace last year’s starting first baseman Kayti Grable and starting midfielder Kali Kossakowski.

Grable led the team in batting average, RBIs and on-base percentage last season. Kossakowski paced the Huskies in runs, was tied with Grable for the most home runs and was third in hits during the 2017 season. The younger players will be expected to step up and fill in the holes.

Sutcliffe said freshman pitcher Mackenzie Bryan significantly improved from the fall to the spring and will fill in some valuable innings among a pitching rotation that features the three seniors.

Sutcliffe said freshman infielder Katie Wingerter could compete for some starting time. Wingerter earned the Huskies’ Silver Slugger award and hit 15 home runs during her senior year at Hersey High School.

Sutcliffe said she has high expectations for herself and the team.

“It’s a good thing we’re [advancing far] in the Mid-American Conference tournament, but we have to figure out how to get into the final game and win it.”

Sutcliffe believes winning less than 30 games would be a disappointment. She’s persistent in getting the team the conference championship that has eluded them since she became the head coach.

The Huskies will begin their season 8 a.m. Friday against The Ohio State University Buckeyes in the Florida Atlantic Tournament in Boca Raton, Florida.

“We’re always trying to win the weekend.” Sutcliffe said. “If we can come out of it 3-2, I think we’re doing a nice job considering we play Ohio State and Michigan State. I think that will be a good weekend for us even though we don’t like losing any games.”