Now that Peppers is in the fold; we can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on winning our next National Championship. The SB Championship run starts today and ends at Oklahoma City in June. Michigan’s most successful coach leads Team 37 on the field today for the 2014 Softball Opening Day. Team Captains are Sr. Nicole Sappingfield and Sr. Katie Luetkens
Coach Hutch has much to be thankful for as Team 37 brings back a host of talented players that will win the Big Ten and earn a trip back to Oklahoma City in June. The lineup will not change much this year as compared to last.
Gone is the Powerhouse 2B, Ashley Lane. Her power and leadership will certainly be missed. Ashley was in the 4 or 5-hole most of her career. Also gone is 3B Amy Knapp. Amy’s defense at the hot corner will be very difficult to replace.
I had the opportunity to watch a few fall games and the ladies look hungry. In the game against Eastern, Colie went yard, yes Colie can you believe it? The other returning starters have gained valuable experience.
The greatest improvement will be in the in the circle. Jr. Haley Wagner is returning 100% healthy and Jr. Sara Driesenga is still throwing B-B’s. Newcomer Megan Besta throws just as hard as the starters so we have three bona-fide starters. Barring something freaky occurring, Megan will be in the pen most of the season while Hayley and Sara share the spotlight.
Another player that is destined to have a break-out year is Sierra Lawrence . She went long twice against Eastern and she looked like she beefed up over the summer. Hutch has a very good summer workout program and Sierra certainly benefited from it.
Last year’s Freshman Sensation and All-Universe SS Sierra Romeo should continue her stellar career. Although I cannot imagine that she will have the same type of season that she did last year. I hope she does; however, if she comes back with 90% of her 2013 production, we will be golden.
The key player in my opinion will be Jr. C Lauren Sweet. Lauren had a slow start last year and really did not get going until the last 1/3 of the season. She ended the season with .236, 10 home runs and 34 RBI. When we needed her the most, Lauren went deep and long against Cal in the Regionals, which was key. Lauren needs start the season much better than last year.
Overall, Team 37 is better than last year’s team. This year will be fun to watch during the NCS as well as winning another Big Ten Title. My prediction is 51-4 (21-2 B1G), and #6 Seed, hosting the Regionals and SuperRegionals on our way back to the Promised land. Hopefully there will be no F5 tornados buzzing around like we had last year.
Go Coach Hutch, Go Team 37 and Go Blue