DEFIANCE, Ohio - The Defiance College softball team will embark on its ninth season under head coach Jodie Holava with high hopes ahead for the 2014 season. The 33rd edition of the Yellow Jacket softball program will begin its season with a week-long trip to Kentucky and then Florida as Defiance will play 10 games (25 percent of the season) in a seven day stretch from March 7th to March 13th.
Defiance will open up the 2014 campaign with a double header at Centre College in Danville, Ky. on Friday, March 7th, before traveling to Kissimmee, Fla. for the Rebel Spring Games. Over a five day period, the Yellow Jackets will take on Skidmore twice, along with Beloit, Hiram, Albion, Thomas More, Simpson and Marietta.
Last season the Yellow Jackets were 6-4 in Florida and head coach Jodie Holava became the all-time wins leader in Defiance Softball history.
The Yellow Jackets bring back a core group of the squad from 2013, returning eight of 12 starters from last season. Defiance will look to beat the preseason ranking of seventh and return to the HCAC tournament behind a strong group of upperclassmen and three All-HCAC returnees.
One of those All-HCAC returnees is pitcher Alli Rowland (Westerville, Ohio / Westerville North) who was named to Second Team All-HCAC last season as a freshman. The sophomore brings back an impressive 2.22 Earned Run Average, which was third in the HCAC just a season ago. She also pitched the fourth most innings with 133.1 while only giving up seven walks. Rowland threw a no-hitter to close out her 2013 campaign.
Joining Rowland for a powerful 1-2 pitching punch will be junior Lauren Dicke (Lima, Ohio / Lima Shawnee). Dicke pitched three complete games, including a shutout and had 32 strikeouts to 19 walks. Kailea Holbrook (Defiance, Ohio / Defiance) and Ashley Gordon (Carleton, Mich. / Allen Park Cabrini) will also contribute to the pitching duties for the Yellow Jackets.
Behind the plate, DC looks to freshman Kali Campbell (Dundee, Mich. / Dundee) to make an immediate impact for the squad. She will be called on to control the game behind the plate as well as produce quality at-bats. Marisa Guyton (Powell, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne) will also add some depth to the catching position, and will look to contribute with a great arm.
Sandra Hubler (Berea, Ohio / Berea) and Megan Warren (Mason, Ohio / Mason) will split time at first base. The Yellow Jackets will need the duo to be consistent at the first base bag. Hubler, as a freshman, made 14 appearances with one start and hit .214 on the year.
Senior second baseman Maggie Neanen (Eaton, Ohio / Eaton) will look to repeat an impressive junior campaign. She was eighth in batting average last year in the HCAC with a .369. Neanen, an Honorable Mention All-HCAC recipient last season, has the fifth highest average retuning in 2014.
The shortstop position will be controlled by Tori Plummer (Perrysburg, Ohio / Perrysburg) and Erica Truitt (Greenfield, Ind. / Eastern Hancock). Plummer brings back 65 starts over two seasons to the shortstop position and Truitt will be adding depth to the middle infield as a freshman.
The hot corner will be controlled by Macy Davis-Ferrall (St. Marys, Ohio / Memorial), who is a returning Second Team All-HCAC selection from 2013. Ferrall has a knack for getting on base and finding ways to score as she led the HCAC in runs scored last season. She also brings a strong glove to the left side of the infield. Freshman Jill Schneider (Botkins, Ohio / Botkins) will add depth to the third base position this season in backing up Ferrall.
Megan Pleskovic (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville), Brittany Shough (DeGraff, Ohio / Riverside), and Katie Haydett (St. Clair Shores, Mich. / Lakeview) will be called upon to protect the outfield this season. The three outfielders will look to bring consistent gloves and bats to the line-up for the Yellow Jackets starting the 2014 campaign with 92 games worth of experience between the three.
Makayla McAvoy (Mt. Gilead, Ohio / Mt. Gilead), Gordon, Kirsten Gjertsen (Whitehall, Ohio / Montague), and Holbrook will look to provide big bats for DC in the offensive designated player spot and key pinch hitting moments. McAvoy and Holbrook played in all 38 games in 2013 and hit .260 and .231, respectively. The duo combined for 25 walks and 31 RBIs to go along with eight extra base hits.
The Yellow Jackets will also look to the Freshman trio of Emily Denhard (Troy, Mich. / Kolbe Academy), Kayla Clute (Onsted, Mich. / Onsted), and Meagan Pace (Brownstown, Mich. / Carleton) to provide speed on the base paths in key pitch-running situations.