Opener early for Jimmies
Having been stuck inside since opening practice earlier this month, fittingly, the Jimmie softball team will open its season tomorrow indoors.
The University of Jamestown, picked as the North Star Athletic Association favorite, opens its season with three games at the St. Paul (Minn.) Dome on Tuesday morning.
It’s an earlier start than usual for the Jimmies, but coach Kevin Gall says it’s a good time to get going.
“The timing seems about right. There was starting to be some of the same-old, same-old feeling, so it’ll be good to play some games,” he said.
The Jimmies play Bemidji State, Sioux Falls and Valley City State with the opening game at 9 a.m.Following last season’s 21-13 record, the roster has a different look.
Gone are last year’s top two run producers in Sarah Heinemann and Kate Johnson. This year’s lineup features more speed than power.
“We felt like we needed to improve our speed,” Gall said. “We have more people that can run this season.”
At the top of the list is preseason all-conference selection Courtney Van Den Bussche, who hit .394 with 13 stolen bases in 2013. She’ll open the season in left field.
Hattie Fullmer moves from second base to right field and freshman Olivia Knott opens in center.
The Jimmies are deep behind the plate with starter Megan Heriot. Sydney Greenlund and Cassie Simenson are also pushing for time.
The double-play combo are local products with Devils Lake’s Autumn Wang at shortstop and Brook Rheault of West Fargo at second.
Emily Newman opens at first base, while third is still up for grabs between Jessica Snow and Tylynn McKeever.
“I think we have some pretty good potential,” Gall said. “A lot of improvement has been made so far as far as maturity and strength. … We’re getting there. We’re excited to see what happens.”
There are questions in the circle.
Emily Snow will anchor the rotation. She and D.J. Johnson each had 10 wins last season to account for all but one of the team’s victories.
Freshman Hanna Dunnigan is slotted in the No. 2 spot, while Mandy Thiessen, a junior, slots in next. Thiessen pitched 16 innings last season.
“The thing you’re always looking for is consistency,” Gall said. “Pitching is our biggest question situation, but those girls all are capable of doing a solid job.”
They’ll have plenty of time to sort it out before conference play begins. Following the St. Paul games, they’ll play consecutive doubleheaders in Kansas City, Mo., on March 1 and 2 before another twinbill in Leavenworth, Kan., March 3. The following week they head for Arizona for games March 9-14.
If the weather ever breaks, they’re looking forward to playing on their new home field, which will also host the conference tournament in early May.
“I think it’s going to be a fun group to work with as long as they keep a positive attitude and continue to work hard and make improvements,” Gall said. “There’s always excitement with a new season and hopefully we’re able to keep making progress as the season goes on.”
2014 Jimmie Softball Roster
Freshmen: Hanna Dunnigan, P/1B; Sarah Money, OF/1B; Olivia Knott, OF; Breezi Cuffe, INF; Jolene Woodbury, P/OF; Cassie Simenson, 1B; Marysa Rogozynski, OF; Rachael College, OF; Crystal Drake, INF.
Sophomores: Sydney Greenlund, C/3B; Brook Rheault, 2B; Rachael Fowler, OF; Autumn Wang, SS; Connie Miller, OF; Jessica Laddusaw, OF; Tylynn McKeever, 3B; Emily Newman, OF/1B.
Juniors: Jessica Snow, 3B; Megan Woronchuk, 1B; Darby Krivoruchka, 1B; Mandy Thiessen, P/OF.
Seniors: Courtney Van Den Bussche, OF; Hattie Fullmer, INF; Megan Heriot, 1B/OF; Emily Snow, P.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com