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January 15, 2010

2010 Season - Experience fuels optimism in softball

Veteran Augustana softball coach Kris Kistler is justifiably optimistic heading into the 2010 season. Her team went 28-14 overall and 9-5 in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin last year and a starter returns at every single field position as well as all three pitchers who accounted for every decision in 2009. There are 15 returning letter winners and Kistler is anxious to get started.

“I am super excited about this season,” said Kistler, who has compiled a record of 292-141-2 in her previous 10 seasons at the Vikings’ helm. “We have an awful lot of experience players returning because we have played so many youngsters over the past couple of years. Now, our players are older and they have worked hard in the off-season.”

The Vikings have been incredibly successful in the last decade, winning at least 30 games in five of the 10 years and only once did the victory total dip below 26. The seniors on this year’s team, and there are seven of them, have compiled an overall record of 84-46 over the past three seasons.

“We have a good combination between our hitting, fielding and pitching,” said Kistler, who has been named “Coach of the Year” in the CCIW three times. “Our pitchers have made great progress, we have a great blend of speed and power on offense and our defense has always been solid.”

Pitching is always a key in fast pitch softball and Kistler has a pair of hurlers who are both coming off tremendous campaigns. Senior Jackie Gill (Heyworth HS, Heyworth, Ill.) was 13-8 a year ago with a 2.06 earned run average in 119 innings of work. She struck out 60 and only walked 24. Gill was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2009 and was a second team all-conference  performer. Sophomore Sheldon Ritzheimer (Wesclin HS, Trenton, Ill.) posted an 11-4 record with a 2.36 ERA in 100 2/3 innings. She struck out 112 batters, which is the sixth highest single season total in school history.

Besides Gill and Ritzheimer, another who will factor in is sophomore Erica Aten (Moline HS, Coal Valley, Ill.). She appeared in 16 games last spring and was 4-2 with a 3.47 ERA in 42 1/3 innings. Juniors Rachel Perry (Illinois Valley Central HS, Chillicothe, Ill.) and Kelli Humbert (Dwight HS, Dwight, Ill.) could also factor in.

The catching position is in solid shape with seniors Brittany Snoreck (Carl Sandburg HS, Orland Park, Ill.) and Karlee Quaritsch (Palatine HS, Palatine, Ill.) sharing the duties. Snoreck hit .410 last year with 50 hits in 122 at-bats while scoring 29 runs with 12 doubles, six home runs and 36 runs-batted-in. She was voted the team’s Best Offensive Player and was first team all-conference and all-region. She was an academic all-district selection by ESPN – The Magazine as well. She ranks ninth in school history on the career home run list with nine and eighth in RBI with 73. Quaritsch batted .358 with 48 hits in 134 at-bats with 31 runs scored, nine doubles, nine home runs and 38 RBI. She was first team all-conference and second team all-region. She is the school record holder for career home runs with 20. When Snoreck catches, Quaritsch will play third base and when Quaritsch catches, Snoreck will fill in as the designated hitter.

The infield will be anchored by Quaritsch at third but there is plenty of experience here. Also at third base will be junior Stephanie Sarb (Lisle HS, Lisle, Ill.). Sarb played in 37 games last year, 34 as a starter and she was the third leading hitter on the squad with a .368 batting average. She collected 39 hits in 106 at-bats with 11 runs, three doubles, one triple and three home runs with 19 RBI. Sarb was a second team all-conference selection as a utility player.

Senior Chrissy Rosin (Niles West HS, Morton Grove, Ill.) will be in her third year as the starter at shortstop and her fourth year as a starter all together. She played second base as a freshman. Last year Rosin hit .358 with 49 hits in 137 at-bats while scoring a team high 33 runs. She had nine doubles, three triples, a team leading 19 base-on-balls and a team-high 17 stolen bases. Rosin was a second team all-conference performer and led the league in plate appearances and stolen bases. She ranks in the school’s top 10 list in five different offensive categories.

Senior Andi Walker (Plainfield South HS, Plainfield, Ill.) and freshman Jessica Peterson (Marian Catholic HS, Lansing, Ill.) will wage a battle for the second base spot. Walker played in 24 games last spring, 20 as a starter, and hit .259 with 14 hits in 54 at-bats. Sophomore Christina Trojanowski (Evergreen Park HS, Evergreen Park, Ill.) was the regular at first base in 2009. She batted .350 with 42 hits in 120 at-bats while scoring 16 runs with six doubles, one triple and one home run. Gill could also play first base in games when she is not pitching.

All three starters return in the outfield, which will feature senior Missy Fobert (Rock Island Alleman HS, Rock Island, Ill.) in center. Fobert was voted the team’s Best Defensive Player last year and was a second team all-conference performer. She hit .347 (34-98) with 30 runs scored, six doubles and four home runs while driving in 23. She was perfect in 10 stolen base attempts. Junior Melissa Nelson (West Aurora HS, Aurora, Ill.) will be the starter in left field for the third straight season. She batted .273 with 35 hits in 128 at-bats while scoring 21 runs in 2009. An all-conference selection as a freshman in 2008, she had five doubles, two home runs and 21 RBI last year. The right field position will be held down by junior Dawn Kernich (Mt. Olive HS, Mt. Olive, Ill.). Kernich was a first team all-conference and a third team all-region pick in 2009 after she batted .400 (38-95) with 20 runs scored, one double, one triple and 12 stolen bases.

Also contending in the outfield will be Trojanowski, senior Ashley Mulligan (Bradley-Bourbonnais HS, Bourbonnais, Ill.), junior Emilee Goad (Galesburg HS, Galesburg, Ill.) and freshman Rachel Russell (Hinsdale South HS, Willowbrook, Ill.).

Last year the team set school records for single season runs scored with 249 and single season hits with 399. The Vikings led the CCIW in 10 different offensive categories.