DEFIANCE, OHIO -- The 2014 season was a year of growth for the Defiance College softball team and the Yellow Jackets will look to transform the experiences gained from a year ago into a possible run at a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship.
This spring, DC returns seven players with significant starting experience from last year and will be led by a duo of seniors in Tori Plummer (Perrysburg) and Brittany Sough (DeGraff/Riverside).
"We had a pretty young team last season and it showed in the final standings," said Head Coach Jodie Holava who will be entering her 10th season as head coach. "But I think we now have a good foundation of experienced players as well as a talented freshmen class with 13 newcomers to the roster, we feel 2015 can be an improvement from last spring."
The Yellow Jacket outfield will return three players, including two players with starting experience in Shough and sophomore Emily Denhard (Troy, Mich./Kolbe Academy).
Shough started all 33 games last season and led the team in batting average at .308 (28-of-91). Her 28 base hits were tied for the team best and she was tied for third in runs batted in with 11. In addition, she also hit one triple, had a pair of doubles and scored six runs. Defensively, Shough had a .945 fielding percentage with 61 putouts and eight assists.
Denhard started 19 of 24 games and posted a .217 batting average (10-of-46) at the plate. She was third on the team in runs scored with 10 and was tied for second in walks with 11. Denhard also drove in three runs.
Also back for Defiance will be junior Katie Haydett (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Lakeview) and sophomore Kayla Clute (Onsted, Mich./Onsted). Haydett played in 20 games and started seven while batting .154 (two-of-13) with seven runs scored. Clute also provided depth at the outfielder position playing in nine games.
The infield will return five players, led by starters Plummer, junior first baseman Sandra Hubler (Berea), junior catcher Makayla McAvoy (Mt. Gilead) and sophomore catcher Megan Warren (Mason). Joining the infielders this season will be junior Megan Pleskovic (Strongsville) who will move from her outfield position last year.
Plummer was second on the team in batting average at .297 (11-of-37) and had seven runs scored in 32 games played.
Hubler played in 32 games and started all but one game. She ended the season with a .220 batting average (18-of-82) with a pair of doubles, four runs scored and a RBI. Hubler recorded 215 putouts and nine assists for a .982 fielding percentage.
McAvoy ended the 2014 season tied for third in RBI (11) while hitting .270 (17-of-63) in 29 games played. She also hit four doubles and crossed the plate twice.
Warren was the team's third-leading hitter with a .296 batting average (24-of-81), was third in RBI (13) and second in doubles (six). She also had a homerun and scored eight runs.
Pleskovic saw playing time in 28 games and started 23. She batted .222 at the plate (12-of-54) with a double, four runs scored and four RBI.
Also back, will be sophomore catcher Marisa Guyton (Powell/Worthington Kilbourne) and sophomore Jill Schneider (Botkins). Guyton played in eight games, and started one game, and batted .286 at the plate (two-of-seven) with two runs scored and a RBI. Schneider spent all of last season as a member of the junior varsity team and could battle for playing time this spring.
Defiance will return one pitcher from last year's rotation in junior Alli Rowland (Westerville/North). Rowland, who earned All-HCAC honors as a freshman, made seven appearances on the mound, including six starts, last season and recorded a pair of victories. She pitched three complete games and had seven strikeouts in 34 and two-thirds innings.
"Everyone on the team is ready to get the season started," said Holava. "We have a good balance of experience and newcomers that I think will complement our team throughout the sesaon. We have had a good off-season and our team continues to develop the skills we'll need if we are going to challenge for a league title."
The Yellow Jackets will open the season against Centre (Ky.) College on Friday, Mar. 6 in Danville, Ky. The first game of the doubleheader will begin at 5 p.m.