The Gustavus softball team begins its MIAC campaign on Wednesday, April 30th against Bethel with the hopes of returning to the top of the conference in 2011. The Gusties, who have finished in the top-two the last five seasons, will first need to develop a new identity on the mound after graduating veteran pitchers Betsie Collins and Callie Nelson. The Gusties have relied on sophomore Kate Rentschler (Lakefield, Minn.), senior Erin Truebenbach (Mapleton, Minn.), and first year Bethany Flohrs (Ornsby, Minn.) in the early going this season. Rentschler has seen the majority of innings thus far, starting 10 games and going 5-5 with an ERA of 4.36.
Behind the plate, the Gusties will feature the veteran combination of seniors Dani Cattrysse (Mankato, Minn.) and Kelly Myers (Lakeville, Minn.). The pair split catching responsibilities last season with Cattrysse hitting a team-high .400 in 65 at bats. Myers is currently hitting .364 and has thrown out 3-of-4 runners attempting to steal, while Cattrysse is hitting .235 and has gunned down 3-of-7 runners.
Seniors Kirsten Prunty (New Ulm, Minn.) and Emily Wendorff (Prior Lake, Minn.), and junior Lisa Klass (Richfield, Minn.) make up the core group of returning infielders. Wendorff (.382), Klass (.378), and Prunty (.347) finished the 2010 season ranked second, third, and fourth, respectively, on the team in hitting, while also earning a spot on the MIAC All-Conference Team. Wendorff will anchor the infield at first base, as she is currently hitting .343 with a team-high six RBI and just one error. Klass will be Gustavus’ utility player in the middle-infield, and Prunty will make the transition from shortstop to third base. Klass is hitting .343 with a fielding percentage of .957, while Prunty is hitting .217 and has made just one error. Others expected to compete for the last spot in the infield include sophomores Amber Hohenstein (Garden City, Minn.) and MacKenzie Dalton (Edina, Minn.) and first-year Caitlin Whitney (Waseca, Minn.).
In the outfield, senior center fielder Jenny Ewert (St. James, Minn.) is the only lock. Ewert made just two errors in the outfield and hit .326 last season. She is currently batting .417 with a team-high 15 hits. Head Coach Jeff Annis expects senior Amy Lynch (Watertown, Minn.), sophomores Sam Breneman (Sherburn, Minn.) and Jen Ulmen (Hokah, Minn.), and rookies Jenny Doeden (New Hope, Minn.) and Emily Gruhlke (Zimmerman, Minn.) to battle for the remaining two outfield spots.
The main goal for Annis’ squad is to get back into the top-four in the conference, win the MIAC Tournament, and get back to the NCAA Regionals. He feels that this year’s group will be solid offensively with a lot of depth and versatility throughout the diamond.