Second-year head coach brings in fresh talent for 2012 season
Calling the first year under head coach Josie Henry a success would be downplaying what she’s done with the Case Western Reserve University softball team. Henry inherited a nine-win team when she came to the program in the 2011 season. After the successful first step of creating a pitching staff, albeit a makeshift one, Henry led the Spartans to a 19-25 season overall, doubling their win total over the previous year and finishing on a 13-5 streak.
With former aces Mackenzie Lein and Katherine Seo drifting to the field as Henry brings in a fresh crop of thoroughbred freshmen pitchers, the Spartans’ hopes for the season are as high as ever.
“We definitely feel that last year’s momentum will carry over into this season,” said Henry. “There is a major difference in the mindset of our returning players. They had to start believing they could win, and once that came to fruition, that mentality caught fire and spread throughout the club.”
The Spartans have the foundation of a strong senior class, including National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Lauren Wolz manning first base, leading the women on the field. Captains Kaeleen Boden and Ian Wasser both return to their positions at third base and catcher/designated hitter, respectively.
“I feel like there is a lot of unfinished business, especially for our senior class,” said Henry. “This group has worked really hard and has played in a challenging conference. It will be great for them to come out and show that all of that work has paid off. We are excited to keep the program moving in the right direction.”
C – Amy Taylor [Sophomore, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Taylor returns in her second season after a successful rookie season behind the plate. Taylor appeared in 28 games, starting 25 as catcher. She hit three home runs on her way to a .293 batting average and 12 RBIs. This season in three games Taylor has three hits on eight at-bats with an RBI.
1B – Lauren Wolz [Senior, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Wolz returns to first base as the first NFCA All American in team history. In her junior season she set program records with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs. A first team All-UAA selection, she finished in the top five of the UAA in hitting, slugging, hits, RBIs, and home runs. Wolz has earned UAA Hitter of the Week three times in her career.
2B – Molly O’Brien [Freshman, Bats: R, Throws: R]
O’Brien jumps into the starting lineup as a rookie out of Northbrook, Ill., where she earned three varsity letters and two All-Girls Catholic Athletic Conference awards. O’Brien has struggled in her first games as a Spartan, with one hit in 10 at-bats. Despite the low offensive output, O’Brien has scored every time she’s set foot on base.
SS – Mackenzie Lein [Sophomore, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Lein split time as the starting pitcher and second baseman for the Spartans in 2011. Picking up pitching for the first time since high school, Lein went 13-8 on the mound. With a new pitching staff, Lein is switching to the left side of second base. She batted .329 in her first season and had 25 RBIs.
3B – Kaeleen Boden [Senior, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Third baseman Boden has started every game of her collegiate career and is a formidable opponent on both sides of the field. A Capital One Academic All-District selection, Boden batted .350 in 2011 and had 14 RBIs. So far this season Boden is batting .250 with a run and a double in three games.
LF – Katherine Seo [Sophomore, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Seo split time in the outfield and on the mound as a freshman. As half of the Spartans starting rotation, Seo pitched in 22 games with a 6-10 record and team-best 5.40 ERA. In the field, Seo batted .240 with a pair of home runs. She also led the team with eight stolen bases in nine attempts, and posted 14 RBIs.
CF – Lizzy Kolar [Freshman, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Holding down the Case outfield will be first-year student athlete Kolar. Kolar comes to Case from Morgantown, W.V. where she earned a number of honors in her high school career, including All-North Central Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2011. In her first three games starting in center field, Kolar has had a perfect fielding percentage.
RF – Gena Roberts [Freshman, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Hailing from Miami, Flor., Roberts comes to the Case outfield as a two-sport student athlete in high school with honors in both softball and basketball. A second-team All-Miami-Dade County selection in her final two years, Roberts is a rookie starter for the Spartans with a perfect fielding percentage in the first three games.
DH – Ianna Wasser [Senior, Bats: R, Throws: R]
As one of the Spartans’ three senior captains, Wasser has been a beacon of consistency for Case. Wasser, who alternates as catcher and designated hitter, batted .299 last season with three home runs and 13 RBIs. Wasser has been the driving force for the Spartans in their opening three games and is 4-for-8 behind the plate with a pair of RBIs this season.
P – Rebecca Taylor [Freshman, Bats: R, Throws: R]
This is the rookie who has made the biggest immediate impact for the Spartans so far. Taylor, who hails from Greater Latrobe, Penn., was named the UAA Pitcher of the Week in the first three games of her college career. She threw three complete games with a 1.75 ERA on her way to a 1-2 record.
P – Hillary Bunnelle [Freshman, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Another part of the new Spartan pitching rotation is rookie Bunnelle, who comes to Cleveland from Mundelein, Ill. A member of the All-North Suburban Conference Team in 2011, Bunnelle will split duties in relief.
P – Christina Hunger [Freshman, Bats: R, Throws: R]
Christina Hunger from Aurora, Ill. rounds out the Spartan pitching staff. Hunger played all four years in high school at West Aurora and earned Dupage Valley Conference Honorable Mention as a junior.