The 2015 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 nine players with significant starting experience from last year and will be led by a group of seniors in Katie Haydett (St. Clair Shores, Mich. /Lakeview), Sandra Hubler (Berea), Makayla McAvoy (Mt. Gilead) and Megan Pleskovic (Strongsville).
"Once again we will be a young team," said Head Coach Jodie Holava who will be entering her 11th season as head coach. "But having a strong sophomore class with game experience will provide a strong foundation for the upcoming season."
The Yellow Jacket outfield will return six players, including three players with starting experience in Pleskovic, junior Emily Denhard (Troy, Mich. /Kolbe Academy) and sophomore Paige Huttenlocker (Jackson, Mich. /Grass Lake).
Pleskovic started 18 games last season and had a batting average of .226 (12-of-53). She tallied four runs batted in and scored three runs while going one-for-one in stolen base attempts. Defensively, Pleskovic had a .952 fielding percentage with 19 putouts and one assist.
Denhard saw playing time in 28 games and started 20. She batted .184 at the plate (nine-of-49) with nine runs scored and three RBI. She was also first on the team in walks with 12.
Huttenlocker started 14-of-24 games and posted a .107 batting average (three-of-28) at the plate. Defensively, she had a .917 fielding percentage with 22 putouts.
Also back for Defiance will be Haydett, junior Kayla Clute (Onsted, Mich. /Onsted), and sophomore Kandee Manson (Paulding). Haydett played in 14 games and started five while batting .250 (two-of-eight) with five runs scored. Clute saw action in one game and scored one run for the season. Manson will look to compete for playing time on the varsity roster this year.
Hubler had a batting average of .179 (10-of-56) which included five doubles, eight RBI and two runs scored in 25 games played. She had the most putouts on the team with 150 and tallied 12 assists for a .970 fielding percentage.
Warren returns as a second-team All-HCAC selection where she started all 34 games behind the plate. She ended the season leading the team with a .314 batting average (32-of-102) with 12 doubles, one triple, two homeruns, 11 runs scored and 16 RBI. Warren recorded 127 putouts and 36 assists for a .976 fielding percentage.
Kuhn ended the 2015 season hitting .302 (32-of-106) in 34 games played. She also hit three doubles, crossed the plate five times and batted in nine runs. Kuhn recorded 12 putouts and 10 assists for a .880 fielding percentage.
Bauer had a .250 batting average (21-of-84), which included three doubles and seven RBI. She tallied 30 putouts and 52 assists for a .911 fielding percentage. Bauer also saw time as a pitcher, pitching 15.2 innings for the season. She recorded a 3.57 earned run average, four strikeouts and ended the season with a 1-2 record.
Also back, will be McAvoy, junior Marisa Guyton (Powell/Worthington Kilbourne), junior Jill Schneider (Botkins), and sophomores Kristin Aslanian (Trenton, Mich. /Trenton) and Libby Leach (Cheshire/River Valley). McAvoy played in 25 games and started five. She batted .129 (four-of-31) with one run scored and five RBI. Aslanian finished the season batting .267 (four-of-15) which included two doubles and one RBI. She recorded 20 putouts and one assist for a .913 fielding percentage. Guyton, Schneider and Leach spent the majority of last season as members of the junior varsity team and could battle for playing time this spring.
Defiance will return four pitchers from last year's rotation in sophomores Sarah Kaya (Lorain/Clearview), Haley Patty (Bradford), Sydni Smith (Jackson, Mich. /Lumen Christi) and Tori Johnston (Spencerville).
Kaya, who earned honorable mention All-HCAC honors as a freshman, made 24 appearances in the circle, including 16 starts, last season and recorded five victories. She pitched 10 complete games and had 93 strikeouts in 115 innings.
Patty made 16 appearances with 13 starts and recorded a 5.06 ERA. She pitched five complete games and finished the season with a 1-10 record. Patty tallied 12 strikeouts in 63.2 innings pitched. Patty also alternated her time in the infield for the Yellow Jackets. She finished the season with a .286 batting average (22-of-77) that included five doubles, three triples, nine RBI and she scored a team-high 16 runs. Defensively, Patty compiled 49 putouts and 64 assists for a .926 fielding percentage.
Smith finished the 2015 season with a 1-1 record where she made five appearances, starting two of those games. In her 18.1 innings of play she recorded six strikeouts, pitched one complete game, one shutout and recorded a 3.44 ERA.
Johnston spent last season as a member of the junior varsity team and will look to compete for playing time this spring.
"After an enthusiastic and high energy preseason, the team is ready to get started," said Holava. "This year the expectations are high and the team's efforts and work habits will set us up for an exciting 2016 season."
The Yellow Jackets will open the 2016 season against Illinois (Ill.) College on Sunday, Mar. 6 in Kissimmee, Fla. The game is set to begin at 9:00 a.m.