Laura Watten Talks BCU Softball 2017

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Laura Watten is in Bethune-Cookman Hall of Fame (Photo Courtesy of Bethune Cookman Athletics)

On this edition of In The Circle, Contributor to In The Circle Andreas Butler talks to Bethune-Cookman Softball Head Coach Laura Watten about the Wildcats 2017 season.

Watten begins her 10th season overall at Bethune- Cookman in her two stints in Daytona Beach.  Watten first stint at Bethune -Cookman was from 1998-2005 leading the Wildcats into the Super Regional in 2005 after winning the Gainesville regional.

Watten went to Maryland after 2005 season and coached there from 2006-2014. Watten now back at Bethune- Cookman in her third season looking to bring the Wildcats program back to the high level she led them to 5 NCAA Tournament appearances winning five straight MEAC Conference championships (2000-2005).

Laura Watten Interview  Episode 80

2017 MEAC Softball Preseason Predicted Order of Finish

As voted on by the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors.

(First-place votes in parenthesis)

NORTHERN DIVISION                                                                                                   

School Points
Delaware State (18) 163
Norfolk State (3) 134
Hampton (2) 133
Morgan State (1) 86
Howard (1) 74
Maryland Eastern Shore 57
Coppin State 53

SOUTHERN DIVISION

School Points
Florida A&M (15) 136
Bethune-Cookman (2) 120
Savannah State (8) 115
North Carolina A&T State 72
North Carolina Central 50
South Carolina State 32

 2017 Softball Preseason All-MEAC Teams

As voted on by the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors.

Preseason Player of the Year: Cortni Jones, Savannah State

Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Kenya Pereira, Florida A&M

First Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

P

Kenya Pereira

Florida A&M

Sr.

Kissimmee, Fla.

P

Tara Tursellino

Delaware State

Sr.

Moreno Valley, Calif.

C

Tia Bolden

Savannah State

Sr.

Decatur, Ga.

*1B

Iesha Waters

Bethune-Cookman

Jr.

Riverside, Calif.

*1B

Kayla McNair

Norfolk State

Sr.

Virginia Beach, Va.

2B

Danielle Velez

Delaware State

Sr.

Chino Hills, Calif.

3B

Cortni Jones

Savannah State

So.

Snellville, Ga.

SS

Brianna Harris

Savannah State

Jr.

Jacksonville, Fla.

OF

Annie Bakenhus

Bethune-Cookman

So.

Yucaipa, Calif.

OF

Whitney Farris

Florida A&M

Sr.

Coral Springs, Fla.

OF

Raven Gray

North Carolina A&T State

Jr.

Forest City, N.C.

UTL

Vanessa Washington

Delaware State

Jr.

Elk Grove, Calif.

*Indicates tie

Second Team

Pos.

Name

School

Cl.

Hometown

P

Sabrina Anguiano

Bethune-Cookman

Sr.

Hacienda Heights, Calif.

P

Mohagony Headen

North Carolina A&T State

So.

Greensboro, N.C.

C

Korynna Lara

Morgan State

Sr.

Las Cruces, N.M.

1B

Toni Anderson

Florida A&M

Jr.

Dothan, Ala.

2B

Seana Moriarty

Norfolk State

Jr.

Chesapeake, Va.

3B

Amber Fullwood

Florida A&M

Sr.

Land O’Lakes, Fla.

SS

Briana Sanders

Bethune-Cookman

So.

San Marcos, Calif.

OF

Alexis Singleton

Savannah State

Sr.

Sarasota, Fla.

OF

Tashayla Irvis

Florida A&M

Sr.

Lake Wales, Fla.

OF

Chasney Jenkins

Savannah State

Sr.

East Moline, Ill.

UTL

Megan Przeslawski

Norfolk State

Jr.

Tampa, Fla.

 

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Shonda Stanton Talks Marshall 2017 Season

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On this edition, Eric Lopez talks to Marshall Thundering Herd Head Coach Shonda Stanton who entering her 18th season as Head Coach at Marshall. Stanton talk about the upcoming 2017 season. Among the topics Stanton talks about includes.

Interview with Shonda Stanton Episode 79

Marshall was picked third in CUSA Preseason Poll will be led by Zerkle who was also

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Morgan Zerkle made US National Team leads Herd Offense. (Photo Courtesy of Marshall)

selected as CUSA Preseason Player of the Year. Zerkle finished second on the Herd in 2016 batting .482, 54 hits including two home runs, 28 runs scored and 28 stolen bases.Zerkle became the fastest player in Marshall history to record 200 career hits in just her 137th game during the 2016 season.

The Herd’s offense gets a boost in 2017 with the return of  Shaelynn Braxton who missed all of 2016. In 2015 Braxton drove in 56 runs becoming just the second player in program history to drive in over 50 runs in two seasons. Four-time All-American Rachel Folden is the other.

Dixon won 23 games in 2016 which was the third straight year of 20 or more wins in a season as well as over 200 strikeouts (268) for the third straight season. Dixon broke Marshall’s career strikeout record passing Andi Williamson (2011-13).

For the latest on Marshall Softball go to HerdZone.com and follow on twitter @HerdSB

 

Kristin Vesely Talks UH 2017 Outlook

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On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez talks with first year Houston Cougars Head Coach Kristin Vesely about the upcoming 2017 season. Among the topics Vesely discussed include.

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  • Transition from Asst Coach to Head Coach
  • Bringing in Megan Gibson-Loftin to handle the pitching staff
  •  Bringing in Jessica Shults
  • Influence Oklahoma’s Patty Gasso has on her career
  • How Softball changed from when Vesely played at Oklahoma to now coaching.
  • Outlook for Houston’s 2017 season
  • Importance of having former Cougars Players like former All-American Angel Shamblin around the program?
  • Outlook of the American Conference

Interview with Kristin Vesely Episode 78

Vesely joined the Houston Softball program in 2011 as the Cougars’ assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach in 2014. Vesely was named the second head coach in the program’s history in June.

Vesely is the  Sooners all-time hits leader (293) as she played at Oklahoma from 2003-2006 being named to the All-Big 12 team in each of her four years and an NFCA All-American for her junior and senior seasons.

The Cougars have a tough schedule in 2017 playing 13 teams who played in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 including defending National Champions Oklahoma who comes to Houston on weekend of February 17-19 as part of tournament Houston is hosting which also includes Ole Miss.

For more information on Cougars Softball go to UHCougars.com and follow on twitter @UHCougarSB.

 

 

Gerice Olson Talks Return to NDSU

On latest edition, Eric Lopez talks with  Gerice Olson who begins her  first season as assistant coach at North Dakota State. Among the topics Olson discusses include.

  • What made her decide to come back to coach in D1?
  • What made her decide to come back to North Dakota State
  • How has school changed from when Olson played to present?
  • Working with Head Coach Darren Mueller
  • Outlook for 2017 Bison season
  • Impact of North Dakota State Football success on Softball.

Interview with Gerice Olson Episode 77

Olson returns to school where she played from 1997-2000 and was one of two seniors on NDSU’s 2000 NCAA Division II national championship team. Olson earned a spot on the national championship and regional all-tournament teams in 2000. Olson was  a North Central Conference (NCC) Player of the Week for the Bison, and was a two-time CoSIDA Academic all-district second team selection, a four-time NFCA Scholar-Athlete and earned Academic All-NCC honors.

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Gerice Olson was part of NDSU 2000 National Championship team(Photo Courtesy of NDSU)

Olson ranks  7th all-time in the program in games played (239), and doubles(42), while still ranked 4th all-time in triples (10),11th in stolen bases (52),and tied for 15th in total bases (266).

Olson returns to coaching in Division 1 softball after leaving UCF after 2012 season where Olson spent two years as an asst coach under Renee Luers-Gillispie helping leading the Knights to the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

Prior to UCF, Olson spent five years as the head coach at NCAA Division II University of Mary, where she led the Marauders to two Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference postseason tournaments.

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Olson was Head Coach at University of Mary from 2006-2010

Olson has spent the past the four years at Buffalo (Minn.) High School. She was an assistant coach for the Buffalo softball team that finished runner-up in the state tournament in 2016. The Bison qualified for the state tournament for the first time in program history in 2015.

The Bison 2017 team is young with only one senior in Alyssa Reina and 10 out of 17 players  are either Freshman or sophomores.

North Dakota State will host the Summit League Tournament in Fargo from May 10-13.

For more information on the Bison go to GoBison.com and follow the program on twitter @NDSUSoftball.

 

Jessica Allister Talks Gophers 2017 season

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On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez talks with Minnesota’s Head Coach Jessica Allister who entering her 7th season with Gophers talks about the upcoming 2017 season.

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Jessica Allister enters her 7th season with Gophers.(Photo Courtesy of  Gophers Athletics)

Among the topics Allister discusses include

  • Outlook for Gophers 2017 season
  • What makes Sara Groenewegen impact player that she is
  • Is this the deepest pitching staff Allister has had at Minnesota?
  • Sam Macken leadership on team
  • Who are the newcomers that will make biggest impact?
  • Who were big influences in Allister’s career?
  • Outlook in Big 10 this season
  • What changes if any would Allister make to Softball?
  • Impact of weather on scheduling

Interview with Jessica Allister Episode 76

Minnesota finished 2016 season with a 43-14 overall record and won their second Ten Tournament championship in three years defeating Michigan. Gophers fell in the Seattle Regional final to Washington after their program record fourth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The Gophers return nine players from last year’s team led by Sara Groenewegen who went 31-7 in her junior season in 2016 with a 2.03 ERA and 336 strikeouts. Groenewegen hit .296 with seven doubles, 11 home runs and 41 RBI as well earning All-American status for the second consecutive season becoming the 4th Gopher to have been an All-American on it least multiple occasions. Groenewegen ended the year as a top 10 finalist for Player of the Year in College Softball also for the second straight year. Groenewegen won the Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player helping the Gophers win the Big 10 Tournament and defeating the Wolverines in the championship game.

The Golden Gophers are  ranked in the USA Softball Top-25  preseason poll with a No. 14 ranking and 16 in the NFCA poll. Minnesota finished with a No. 20 ranking in the NFCA poll and a No. 19 ranking in the USA Softball poll in 2016.

For more information on Minnesota softball go to GophersSports.com and follow on twitter @GopherSoftball.

D2 Revue: North Alabama

It is only fitting that our final team in the D2 Revue was the final team standing in Denver, Colorado back in May. We of course are referring to the defending National Champion North Alabama Lions. UNA enters the season as the preseason #1 team in the NFCA Division II Poll and are one of the heavy favorites to make it Salem, Virginia for the 2017 Division 2 WCWS. We had the honor to chat with head coach Ashley Cozart about her team heading into the 2017 season

  • What it was like winning it all last year
  • Where she was when she was announced to the St. Leo Hall of Fame
  • How moving to Division I and the Atlantic Sun will impact the program
  • Playing in the Gulf South Conference prepared UNA for their postseason run
  • The biggest difference in being the hunted from being the hunters

D2 Revue: UNA Lions

The Coaching Staff:
Entering her fourth year as head coach, Ashley Cozart has quickly established herself as one of the top coaches in all of Division II. In her three years at the helm, she has guided the Lions to the postseason each year and has recorded a 136-39. She has coached 15 All-Gulf South Conference (GSC) selections, 12 All-South Region picks, and 4 All-Americans (all in 2016) during her tenure. During her seven overall seasons as a coach both at UNA and NAIA program Lindsay Wilson College, Coach Cozart is a sparkling 327-84. She and assistant coach Whitney Hawkins were named the 2016 NFCA Coaching Staff of the Year. This season, they will have two familiar faces serving as student assistants in Brooklyn Clark and Courtney Shields.

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About Last Season:
From their surprising 12-2 victory versus North Georgia to start the year to their dominant run through the Gulf South Conference, 2016 was truly the year of the North Alabama Lions. They started the season 11-0 and didn’t look back as they climbed quickly to the #1 ranking in the NFCA polls by the middle of the season. Gulf South Conference play looked easy (which is isn’t) as they went a combined 33-3 in conference games as they won both the regular season and tournament championships. They were the #1 seed in the South Region which meant they got to stay home in front of their sold out fan base at UNA Softball Stadium. They used that crowd and some clutch hitting to advance to the Super Regionals where they had to face Rollins College for the third straight season. After winning game 1, UNA trailed by 2 runs with three outs to go. The record setting crowd rallied the Lions to a tie and eventual win in extra innings to advance to Denver where they knocked off Humbolt State in three to win their first NCAA Softball Championship.

Another All-American back for UNA in 2017 will be shortstop Reagan Tittle She has started every game for the Lions since coming on as a freshman in 2015. Tittle was just as strong at the plate hitting .356 with 11 dingers and 56 RBI’s. She was also tied for second on the team in steals with 17. Her strength however is in the field where she help anchor a UNA defense that posted a .976 fielding percentage in 2016.

North Alabama might have the best 1-2 combination in Division 2 in 2017 with senior hurlers Hilary Carpenter and Raven Cole Last season, they combined to go 58-6 and led a staff that was near the top of the Gulf South Conference in many statistical categories. Carpenter already holds single-season and career records for wins as well as innings pitched. She racked up a school-record 33 victories in 2016 en route to being named first team All-GSC for the third straight season. She enters her senior season on pace to break the career record for strikeouts, games started (already tied), and complete games.

Cole transferred in from LSU-Eunice in 2016 and was just as dominant as her teammate Carpenter. Raven went 25-3 with a 2.24 ERA which also garnered her first team All-Gulf South Conference Honors. She was the only pitcher to finish conference play with a perfect record (14-0, 2.10 ERA in GSC action) and threw a pair of no-hitters versus Stillman and Mississippi College

Did You Know: Prior to Coach Cozart’s arrival in Florence in 2014, the Lions had made only made the NCAA Tournament twice (2006, 2013) and had not won the Gulf South Conference championship (regular season or postseason) since 1987.

For more notes and news about the Lions, visit UNA Lions Softball and follow them on Twitter at @UNAsoftball and @UNAAthletics