Season Preview: Softball Begins 2016 Campaign Sunday In Rochester Posted on February 26th, 2016 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – One year removed from its first ever MIAC playoff championship, the Gustavus softball team is eager to get back to the diamond with healthy mix of returning veterans and incoming first-years. The Gusties kick off their 2016 campaign Sunday with a non-conference doubleheader at the Rochester Regional Bubble against UW-Stevens Point (2:30 p.m.) and UW-River Falls (7 p.m.).

“At this point in the season we are just making sure that everybody knows where they are going in all situations – cutoffs and first-to-third – along with the fundamentals of hitting and fielding,” Head Coach Jeff Annis said. “Our pitchers have been throwing well. I think we’ll be ready to go Sunday and it should be a good measuring stick for us to see where we are at and what we need to continue to work on, and develop as a team.”

Annis, now in his 10th season at the helm of the Gustie softball program, returns one MIAC All-Conference player in pitcher Hannah Heacox (Jr., Stillwater, Minn.), but is charged with replacing three All-MIAC performers, including MIAC Pitcher-of-the-Year Sarah Rozell.

Six Gustie starters return who held fielding roles last year, but some in different positions. Kaitlyn Bicek (Sr., Northfield, Minn.) is a staple of the infield, having started 49 games at third base last season and returns to her corner infield position. Addy Nelsen (Sr., Willmar, Minn.) and Nathalee Boissiere (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) return as the team’s catchers. Rachel Malo (Jr., Owatonna, Minn.) played outfield last season, but will make the transition to infield this year, while Jessica Williams (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) returns to the outfield. Heacox is also in the mix of position players as she may find herself in the field when she is not toeing the rubber.

The pitching rotation this season will include Heacox as the ace, followed by Jena Willis (Jr., Kalispell, Mt.) and Williams.

This year’s captains include Bicek, Heacox, Malo and Nelson.

“The team is going to look to those four as leaders, being in their roles as captains, but we’ve got a lot of good leaders that aren’t captains as well,” Annis said. “I think we’ve got a real good mix. The kids get along real well and they are really into the team concept. There is more of a “we” than “me” attitude, which is good.”

Annis and the coaching staff are also excited about this year’s group of first-years as well as seeing how the sophomore class improved from last year.

Emily Webb (Fy., Maple Lake, Minn.) is an athletic individual and is going to contribute,” Annis said. “Ashley Beise (Fy., Plymouth, Minn.) is going to get a chance to contribute, as is Ashley Hoffman (Fy., New Prague, Minn.). We’ll have three Hoffman sisters on the team, so that’s going to be interesting. Rachel Strandmark (So., New Ulm, Minn.), Jessica Neuman (So., Elk River, Minn.) and Kim Kurtzweg (So., Arlington, Minn.), it will be interesting to see how much they’ve worked in the offseason and from fall to now. They are all going to be given opportunities to strut their stuff, so to speak, and they can contribute to this team.”

Sunday’s doubleheader marks the first two games of a 40-game regular season. The Gusties have four games over the next two weekends in Rochester, Minn., and will then travel to Tucson, Ariz. March 17-20 to participate in the Tucson Invite. The MIAC season starts March 28 at Bethel University. The first home game of the season is April 9 against Augsburg.

The next win for Gustavus will mark Annis’ 300th victory at Gustavus, as he currently holds an all-time record of 299-122-1. Last season Annis became the winningest coach in Gustavus softball history, surpassing former coach Tom Witty’s all-time mark of 293-211-3.

2016 Schedule | 2016 Roster | 2015 Stats


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