BGSU softball looks to build on strong season (06-05-12)
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 09:29
Bowling Green's softball team already is looking forward to next season.
|BG's Jamie Kertes throws a pitch against Western Michigan earlier this season. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Falcons have plenty of reasons for their optimism.
They'll return seven position players and two starting pitchers from this season when they finished 36-22 overall and 15-7 in the Mid-American Conference East Division.
Among the returnees are first-team All-MAC shortstop Hannah Fulk, MAC freshman of the year and first-team All-MAC pitcher Jamie Kertes, and All-MAC freshman team pitcher Paris Imholz.
"The bar has been set higher and that's what you hope for in your program," said Falcon coach Shannon Salsburg, who will be in her seventh season next spring.
The Falcons finished second in the East, one-game behind Miami at 16-6. BG had a chance to win the division going into the final weekend of the season, but lost three of its last four games at Miami and Ball State.
Ball State had the best record in the MAC at 17-3.
Miami won the MAC tournament to earn the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA regionals.
"They were disappointed to lose in the tournament, but they were ready to come back and fight to get to (the regionals) next year," Salsburg said. "That's exciting that that is in their thought process now."
BG's 36 wins were the second-most in school history and its 15 MAC wins were one shy of the school record.
The Falcons hadn't had a winning record since 2007, Salsburg's first season. BG's winning record in the MAC was its first since 2008.
"The players' investment in themselves paid off," Salsburg said. "They worked really, really hard as a group and a lot times away from practice. The confidence of knowing they could play with anyone at any time, having that edge back, is going to be huge for us."
The Falcons' only seniors were Melissa West, a solid defensive third baseman; and Rachel Proehl, who hit .299 and played left field. Proehl and West were two of BG's best leaders, along with Fulk, Paige Berger and Andrea Arney.
Fulk, Berger and Arney will be seniors next season.
The biggest difference for the Falcons was the pitching of Kertes and Imholz, who combined for a 34-22 record and a 2.01 earned-run average.
"Just having confidence in the folks in the circle was huge," Salsburg said. "They could handle anything that came their way, even as freshman. They elevated the whole team."
Imholz was 17-9 and second in the MAC with a 1.81 ERA. Kertes was 17-13 with a 2.20 ERA, fourth-best in the MAC. She pitched the last month of the season with a slipped disk and a fractured vertebrae. She's expected to healthy in time for next season.
Kertes was effective with a dropball and Imholz used a curveball, but Salsburg is looking for them to add another pitch for next season.
"We're looking for them to continue to grow," Salsburg said. Both of them had one pitch that they had total command of and we have to add another pitch for each of them because people will make adjustments. It's not that they didn't have (another pitch), but they didn't have command of it."
BG - which made just 67 errors in 58 games and ranked fourth in the MAC in fielding - will return Berger at first, Arney at second, Fulk at short, Katie Yoho in center, Shelby Fulk in right, and Erika Stratton and Adrienne Dick at catcher.
Outfielder Chloe Giordano may move to third base.
Salsburg said the Falcons have a talented freshmen class coming in and the class is expected to have a big impact, offensively and defensively.
"We had a great defensive year and we need to continue to focus on the little things," Salsburg said. "We don't need to be flashy."
The Falcons' main area of improvement for next season is their offense. BG was last in the MAC with a .243 batting average. Fulk led the team with a .327 average, while Berger batted .326 and Yoho hit .312.
But no other Falcon hit more than .299. The team's batting average without Fulk, Berger and Yoho was only .189.
"We had some nice runs this year, but the bottom of our lineup still needs to be a little more productive throughout the year," Salsburg said.
BG hit for more power this season, stroking 46 homers compared to 26 in 2011.
Salsburg also expects BG to have more speed next season, allowing it to bunt and run more in the future.
"We should be better offensively overall," Salsburg said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 11:24