The Northwestern softball team, who was last season’s GPAC champion for the regular season, is ready to begin the 2013 campaign. The women had an outstanding season last year, and finished with a 33-13 record overall and 16-2 in the GPAC.
“I thought we had a pretty good year,” said head coach Chris Nachtigall of his first season with Northwestern. “I felt like we had the ability to do well. It was just a matter of whether we were going to put it together, and we did.”
Last year’s team only graduated three seniors, so a majority of the roster remains. Pitcher Katie VandeVoort, last year’s GPAC Pitcher of the Year, returns for her junior season. Fellow junior starters are shortstop Alex Price, outfielder
Jordan Biehle, first baseman Lindsey Remien, pitcher and outfielder Keely Bracelin and pitcher and infielder Alex Brower.
The team’s sophomores are infielder Jadyn Kooiker, catcher Jill Kleinhesselink and second basemen Kara Nonnemacher, who hit .303 last season and earned all-conference honors. Freshman fill the remaining spots in the lineup with
catcher and third baseman Tiffany Bakarich, outfielder Clarissa Ipema, infielder Tierra Fletcher, pitcher and infielder Kayla Foresman, first baseman Laura Hurley, outfielder Allison Herbert and outfielder Jordan Harmelink.
“I think it will be really interesting to see how consistent we are,” VandeVoort said of the young team. “We did so well last year because we were really consistent.”
The team has now competed in some opening games this season that, according to Nachtigall, should not count against their record. They participated in an event at Mount Mercy College two weeks ago and last weekend traveled to Oklahoma Baptist.
“I think this weekend was a good learning experience for us because the teams we played were nationally ranked,” VandeVoort said. “It was an eye-opener. It will help us prepare for conference and help give us confidence that we can beat anyone because we’ve competed against the toughest teams.”
This team is highly motivated and ready to succeed, but they believe their success comes only from one source: God.
“I think above any other goals, we all agree that we just want to honor God this year,” Biehle said. “We want to be good stewards and representatives of our families and NW in the way we act off the field and interact with the opposing team,opposing coaches and umpires throughout this season.”
This goal is one that the entire team has bought into, and they are ready to face the challenges this year.
“We want to be a unit that works together, that moves as one and that is closely knit together,” Nachtigall said. “That is going to make the best team, both on the field and off the field.”
The women play next in Arizona during spring break at the Tuscon Invitational.