Entering its fourth year of competition, the Yellow Jackets softball team under head coach Amy Gurney, look to make some noise in the Dakota Athletic Conference in the 2010 spring softball season. The Yellow Jackets finished 4th in 2009 and expect to improve on that mark returning 10 players from last season. “Every year we expect to improve, commented head coach Amy Gurney. Our first season we won 11 games, our second season we finished 3rd in the DAC, and last season we had our first over .500 record. We continue to reach milestones every year and that has been my goal since starting the program 4 years ago.”
In 2009 the Yellow Jacket pitching staff led the DAC with the lowest ERA at 3.73. Senior, Karissa Norte will lead the staff as captain of the 2010 squad. Sophomore Katie Wagner is also returning as she had a strong freshman season by having the most strike outs of any freshman at BHSU with 72 on the year. The returners have set the bar high and will bring that expectation into the 2010 season as well as looking toward freshman pitchers Alex Huntington from Divide, CO, Nikki Chacon from Greeley, CO, and Katie Swanson from Cheyenne, WY. “We will rely on our pitchers to be the difference makers in the game. Whoever is in the circle whether it is a senior or a freshman, will lead the team and set the tone,” commented Coach Gurney.
On the dirt for the Yellow Jackets will be returning sophomore Aleishia Giesey at shortstop, junior team captain Krista Gleiforst at third base and junior Nicole Albers at first base. When fans come to watch the home games, they should notice the strength in the infielder’s arms. We’ve all heard the saying “you throw like a girl,” well in this case it would be a compliment. Rounding out the infield at second base will be freshman Kyley Barela from Cheyenne, WY and freshman third baseman Meagan Bell from Belgrade, MT.
Behind the plate, the Yellow Jackets will rely on junior Kelsey Lock and senior team captain Danielle Briere to control the defense. “Kelsey and Danie are much of the reason that the pitching staff controls the opposing lineup so well. They call strong games for each pitcher and work well on picking up the batter’s weaknesses,” Coach Gurney said. Rebecca Hugley from Granby, CO joins the yellow jackets for the 2010 season and after a strong fall performance, is looking to play a role behind the plate.
“Other teams will remember our outfielders, coach Gurney stated. Our outfielders are all returners and are the quickest, toughest, and hardest workers; I have ever coached in the grass.” Senior Heidi Kwilinski, junior Ashley Berg, and sophomore 2009 All-Conference player Maria Herber will be the Yellow Jackets last line of defense in the outfield. “All three are willing to go through a fence and probably have, to catch a ball or take away a homerun. They compete in the outfield and are willing to give their best performance day in and day out.”
Offensively, the Yellow Jackets will look toward a mix of speed and power to score runs. Maria Herber, Ashley Berg, and Kyley Barela must be the table setters for the offense by getting on base. From there the power of the lineup has to earn the RBIs by pushing the speed across the plate. Heidi Kwilinski who batted .383 in 2009 will be joined by Karissa Norte, Danielle Briere, Krista Gleiforst, and Aleishia Giesey to produce the run support for the Jackets.
The Yellow Jackets kick off their season with a spring training trip to Tucson, AZ where they will match up against NAIA teams from all over the Country. Mark your calendars because they kick off their home schedule March 20th and 21st against conference rival Dakota State University. The Yellow Jackets are excited about their schedule and look forward to seeing the hometown crowd out to show their support throughout the season.