By Julia Rivera, Staff Writer
The Miami University softball team begins the 2016 season this weekend in Atlanta, where it faces No. 5 University of Alabama at the Panther Invitational.
The RedHawks finished the 2015 season ranked second in the Mid-American Conference with a 13-7 record. Clarisa Crowell begins her fourth season as head coach of the program.
This year's team includes several new faces, so Crowell said the team will depend on veteran leadership.
Below is a positional breakdown for the upcoming season.
Amber Logemann returns to the mound for the last time. The senior, who was named First Team All-Mac last year, appeared in 44 games, making 30 starts. She had one of the top seasons in RedHawk history, finishing 27-11 with a 1.93 ERA and 213 strikeouts in 225.1 innings pitched. Opponents hit .195 against her.
Junior Kelsey Fredricks returns this season after becoming an essential member of the team last year. She appeared in 15 games, making 10 starts in the circle.
"She really came on strong for us at the end of MAC play when we needed her," Crowell said. "I expect her to carry that momentum that she had from last year into this year."
Freshman Shannon Hohman joins the team after lettering four years at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Ill. In the 2013 season she set a school record with 200 strikeouts.
Also new to Miami, redshirt junior Carly Mortensen is a transfer from University of the Pacific in Stockton, Cal., where she played for three seasons. An injury in 2014 forced her to take a medical redshirt, but she returned in 2015 and appeared in seven games. She has two years of eligibility left at Miami.
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Sophomore Rylee Whispel was MU's primary catcher last year, starting 41 games. She made one error in 230 chances, achieving a .996 fielding percentage.
"When Rylee is healthy and she's on the field she's a great defensive player for us," Crowell said.
Redshirt junior Lauren Anderson joins Miami's team from the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Cal. Anderson led the team in hits, doubles, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, while making just one error behind the plate all season. She was named the 2015 Western State Conference Player of the Year and made the California All-State team.
The infield is dominated by underclassmen in 2016. Of the seven infielders, three are freshmen and two are sophomores.
Hailey Reed enters her senior year at first base. In 2015, she appeared in 34 games and started in 19.
"She just does a great job of being positive and encouraging for our younger kids," Crowell said. "I expect a lot of things out of Hailey. I expect her to be a leader on the infield and I expect her to contribute both defensively and offensively."
The other upperclassman of the infield is junior Eryn McCarver. She was the team's main second baseman last year, starting 51 games. She hit a .314 batting average and finished with a .954 fielding percentage.
Kat Lee returns for her sophomore year. As a freshman she appeared in 35 games and started 19, playing at first base, third base and catcher. Crowell said Lee will spend time catching this year, but will mostly play at third.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Gliha is a utility player, seeing time at multiple positions.
"Kaitlyn's best asset is that she's a great hitter and when you hit, you find a way in the lineup," Crowell said. "Were trying to figure out [where] Kait is going to fit in the defensive puzzle, but we definitely need to get her bat in the line up this year."
The freshmen of the infield are shortstop Michaela Schlattman, third baseman Hannah Girlie and first baseman Johniann Wahl.
Though Taylor Shuey is in her senior year, she'll be playing at a new position. For the last three seasons she started in right field, but this year, she'll be at center.
"Because of Tiyona Marshall graduating last year we decided to move Taylor to center field," Crowell said. "I think she's done an excellent job of adjusting to that position."
Tanya Busby is the other senior outfielder. She spent most of her time at first base last season, but she'll replace Shuey in right field in 2016. Busby is the only true slapper on the team.
Jenna Jones returns for her junior year and also takes on a new position. She'll be in left field after playing in the infield last year. She had a .125 batting average, one home run and eight RBIs in 2015.
Rounding out the outfield are freshmen Anna Geary and Chloe Melanson and redshirt freshman Alyssa Hedric, who has been battling in injury.
The 'Hawks travel to Atlanta for the Panther Invitational this weekend. Play begins at 10 a.m.