FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 01, 2008
The quest begins
Feb. 1, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
The 2008 edition of the JU softball media guide is now available online. Get ready for the upcoming season with all the stats, facts and figures on the team.
In just her first season as head coach, head coach Amanda Lehotak endured one of the toughest schedules in program history with a young squad. Despite the odds and the obvious learning curve, the Dolphins were within reach of the postseason. For the second season in a row, the Dolphins boast one of the youngest squads in the Atlantic Sun Conference, with 14 of their 19 players being underclassmen. Even though the squad is young, JU returns many key members who will look to build upon what they learned last season and propel the Dolphins into the conference tournament.
"The goal this year is to make the Atlantic Sun tournament," said Lehotak. "We have a bad taste in our mouth left over from last year because we had control of our own destiny and we let it slip away. Even though our squad consists of many freshmen and sophomores, I expect the chip on our shoulder to make us more mentally tough this season."
At the plate, the Dolphins will look to continue the trend that saw them improve on their 2006 totals in batting average, runs scored, on-base percentage and stolen bases. The upswing of offensive firepower has enabled the Dolphins to be potent from any part of their lineup.
"Offensively I expect us to be more consistent throughout the lineup," Lehotak said. "We have a better balance of speed and power. This group of hitters just has a knack for getting on base."
The Dolphins employed a lot of youngsters around the horn in 2007 and the experience gained will be vital to their push for a spot in this year's A-Sun Tournament. The competition for playing time is fierce, with the Dolphins possessing solid depth at every position.
Three players will be fighting for time behind the plate. Sophomore catcher Ashley Mora started all 58 games last season and led the team with 10 doubles and 28 runs batted in. Sophomore Simone Bruemmer made 30 starts last year and freshman Jessica Abraham looks to be an impact player after signing from American Senior High School in Miami, Fla.
"Behind the plate is another area where we have gained depth," said Lehotak. "Ashley and Simone split equal time last year. With their year of experience and with the addition of Jessica, this will definitely be a fierce competition in completing the battery."
Returning from injury last season, Glasscock will look to get back on pace after earning all-freshman team honors in 2006.
Gordon, a transfer from Daytona Beach Community College, racked up 43 hits in her 55 starts last season between third base and the outfield.
Joining them will be Moseley, who possesses a stellar glove and was used primarily as a defensive replacement last season at first base and Carmack, who has the versatility to line up anywhere in the infield after signing from Florence Christian High School in Florence, S.C.
With the graduation of shortstop Renee LaCroix coupled with senior Patricia Melo, being used primarily as a batter this season, the door is open for a quartet of underclassmen to claim the starting middle infield positions.
Melo, a transfer from Florida Community College of Jacksonville, tied for the team lead with two home runs, led the Dolphins with a .400 on base percentage last season and placed second on the team with a .295 batting average while playing second base.
Sophomore Kelly McKeon started 46 games last season between the infield and outfield and her versatility will be a key asset for the Dolphins this season.
Sophomore transfer Shannon Monahan, a transfer from Sante Fe Community College, earned All-America honors by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and was named Mid-Florida Conference "Player of the Year".
Freshmen Katie Kelly and Carmack will also be in the mix.
"This is the most athletic infield I have ever coached," Lehotak said. "We have depth at every position."
The outfield is one of the most experienced units on the team, possessing four returners including three upperclassmen.
Senior outfielder Jillian Mirante, a first team all-conference selection last season, leads the way at the plate for the Dolphins. The career steal leader at JU with 27 swipes, Mirante possesses game changing speed, as she demonstrated when she hit an inside the park home run in back-to-back games against Lipscomb (3/31) and Belmont (4/1).
"She is the ultimate team leader," said Lehotak. "She leads by example, performance and attitude."
"I believe we have put together one of the fastest outfields in the country," Lehotak said. "Along with Jillian, the additions of Engler and Ouellet will add blazing speed to the line-up. The consistent play of McKeon, Gordon and Novak means the starting line-up for the outfield is anyone's guess. This is the most competition we have had for three spots since I have been here."
The Dolphins will feature plenty of experience in the circle as the pitching staff returns three of its four starters from last season. With a top-flight freshman added to the mix, the Dolphins possess a rotation that will enable them to compete with any team in the country.
Senior Shannon Jensen leads the way and will look to leave her mark in Dolphins' lore. The 2005 A-Sun "Freshman of the Year" currently sits second in most pitching categories in program history.
"Shannon brings a relentless and competitive nature to our staff," said assistant coach Ali Higgs. "We will be looking to her senior leadership and experience in the circle to put us in a position to win."
The Dolphins will be expecting big things from sophomore Ashley Iveson, who recorded a shutout victory over UNC-Greensboro, a win over South Florida and held North Carolina to one hit over 7.2 innings.
"With her freshman year under her belt, Ashley knows what to expect in our conference," Higgs said. "She has made huge strides in refining her arsenal in preparation for this upcoming season."
Battling through injuries most of the season, sophomore Brittany Abbott gained vital experience in 2007, making nine appearances in the circle for the Dolphins.
"Just coming back from injury, we expect Brittany to refine her pitches and build back her endurance to be able to throw seven innings," said Higgs. "With her work ethic and determination, we look forward to having her back in the rotation."
Rounding out the staff is freshman Jackie Samuels, who joins the squad from Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga.
"Jackie will add depth and deception to our pitching staff this year," Higgs said. "As a freshman, with her new look and mound presence, we expect some big games out of her this year."