Newark softball coach Brian Holman knows, like all the other coaches in the area, that just getting out onto the field this spring has been a challenge. Not only that, but Holman’s duties are not made any easier when the fields do indeed dry up, as he is faced with the task of replacing the likes of seniors Melissa Schmidt and Lauren Tollefson from last season.
“Our biggest challenge for us, besides getting on the field, will be our lineup,” he said. “We lost some really good seniors that were able to get on base for us on a regular basis.”
Last year, Schmidt was the team’s leadoff hitter where she compiled a .408 batting average and a .506 on-base percentage, and Tollefson was the three hitter, where she batted .470 with a .527 on-base percentage. She also made the Super-60 State All-Star team.
“We are spending a lot of time going back to the basics of hitting and doing a lot of bunting and trying to fill out the lineup with some new faces,” Holman said.
Having pointed that out, Holman does have a nice nucleus of players to choose from when considering his lineup this spring. Five players return from last year as previous letter-winners, and two others return to the team with starting experience.
Senior Kristine Zitt is a returning first baseman and pitcher, senior Megan Malone is a returning first baseman/outfielder, junior Caroline Erickson is a returning third baseman, sophomore Kelsey Zitt is a returning shortstop and Megan DiClementi is a returning starting catcher. Junior outfielder Lexi Zeznanski and sophomore pitcher/first baseman Shelby Hoddy also return to the team with starting experience.
“Our pitching and defense is going to have to carry us,” Holman said. “We have three solid pitchers, and our defense up the middle is a strong point. We have a returning catcher, shortstop and third baseman to go along with our experienced pitchers.”
Juniors Kelsey Brown and Lexi Zeznanski, sophomores Sara Hipsman, Mozelle Kempiak, Emily Oldenburg and Shelby Hoddy and freshmen Jasmine Mitchell and Jocelyn Waters round out the roster.
Newark was 17-7 last year and tied for third in the Little Ten Conference with a 10-4 mark.