The Northern Kentucky University Softball Team is aiming to retain the 2007 Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship.
NKU is looking for its sixth straight berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Norse will be in a bit of a rebuilding stage, as the roster consists of 15 freshman and sophomores. They are ranked fourth in the GLVC preseason poll.
“You can’t replace them,” Head Coach Kathy Stewart said of last year’s seniors. Stewart is planning to look to Amanda Smith and Shatona Campbell to lead the team offensively.
Campbell had five home runs on the team last year as a freshman, leading all returning starters.
Smith led the Norse in pitching compiling a 24-12 record and a 2.27 earned run average in 46 appearances. She also performed at the plate with a .317 avg., with 32 runs batted in and 22 runs scored.
The only returning upperclassmen for NKU is senior Becky Napier. She had an injury-shortened season, only playing in 12 games last season. Stewart looks to veteran Napier for her leadership for the Norse.
Napier performed tremendously for NKU in the 2005 season, hitting .356 with 38 RBI’s. The same season, the Norse went onto a NCAA record for consecutive (55) wins, going 55-2.
Sophomore Jenny Weis returns to play catcher, which she took over mid-way through the 2006 season, replacing the regular catcher who went out with an injury.
Weis also has a strong presence at the plate with an impressive .403 on-base percentage in 67 at bats.
First baseman and All-Region honoree Katybeth Coode returns to the Norse hitting .321 with 17 RBI. Stewart will have her at first base when Smith pitches and at designated player, when Smith plays first.
Cara Parker will play at the third base position. The sophomore had a team and GLVC high in sacrifice flies with three. Parker plays well on the defensive side, posting a remarkable .927 fielding percentage in her first year on the team.
Candace White will be a part of the pitching rotation for NKU, as she finished the season with a 3.05 ERA and eight shutouts in 2006.
Stewart also has some solid freshman coming in this year, and will provide depth on the positions and on the bench like Rose Broderick and Karen Simmons.