FSU

SOFTBALL OPENS ITS 2009 SEASON THIS WEEKEND IN KENTUCKY

Sixth-Ranked Bulldogs To Play Four Contests In Season-Opening Action

Amanda Jager
Senior first baseman Amanda Jager and the nationally-ranked Bulldog softball team open their 2009 season this weekend at the Kentucky Wesleyan Challenge.
The nationally-ranked Ferris State University softball team will begin its 2009 season this weekend (Feb. 28-March 1) at the Kentucky Wesleyan Challenge in Owensboro, Ky.

Ferris State embarks on its 37th season of intercollegiate competition this campaign ranked sixth in the 2009 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll.

The Bulldogs, under 12th-year head coach Keri Becker, make their 2009 season debut with two outings apiece against host Kentucky Wesleyan and Missouri Science & Technology. FSU was originally scheduled to play against five Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) teams during the two-day season-opening tournament, but field conditions at the four-field complex deteroriated due to ice storms in early February.

Ferris State takes to the field this Saturday (Feb. 28) for a matchup against Kentucky Wesleyan at 9 a.m. (CST) before tangling with Missouri S&T in a 1 p.m. (CST) contest. The Bulldogs resume non-conference action Sunday (March 1), beginning with a 9 a.m. (CST) tilt versus Missouri S&T and then concluding the tourney against Kentucky Wesleyan at 11 a.m. (CST). All games are slated to be held at KWC's Panther Field. The Bulldogs are 2-2-0 in their all-time series against Kentucky Wesleyan while generating a 1-1-0 series mark versus Missouri S&T.

"Despite the chilly temperature we may encounter this weekend in Owensboro, the team is looking forward to just getting the season started," said Becker, the all-time winningest softball coach at Ferris State. "After six weeks indoors, the walls tend to close in on us fast.

"While I'm disappointed to not see a variety of regional opponents, these two teams (Kentucky Wesleyan and Missouri S&T) will provide us with a measurement of just how prepared we are for the season," added Becker, the 2008 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (GLIAC) Coach of the Year.

The Bulldogs return 11 letterwinners from last year's team while six new faces will appear on the 2009 roster. Leading the way for Ferris State are 2008 All-GLIAC First-Teamers in senior first baseman Amanda Jager (Kalamazoo/Comstock) and senior pitcher-outfielder Sarah Mueller (Santa Clarita, Calif./Valencia) along with junior second baseman Amanda Harrington (St. Joseph/Stevensville-Lakeshore) and senior pitcher-outfielder Holly Bruntjens (Gladstone), both all-league second-team honorees a season ago.

For Ferris State, the early key to success will be the productivity displayed in the pitching circle.

"I am most pleased with where our pitching staff is as we approach the weekend and see this as the strength of our team right now," said Becker. "Defensively, we will have some tough decisions to make as the players continue to compete for positions."

Kentucky Wesleyan, under the direction of head coach Miles Mallette, is off to a 2-4 start this season and is scheduled to play four more non-conference games this week before the four-game weekend. KWC starts this week with a road twinbill against NCAA Division I foe Austin Peay this Wednesday (Feb. 25) in Clarksville, Tenn. The Panthers then entertain Alabama-Huntsville this Thursday (Feb. 26) in a doubleheader at Owensboro.

Missouri S&T, which is directed by head coach Don Kennedy, has compiled a 3-5 overall record this season to date. The Lady Miners posted a 2-4 mark at last weekend's (Feb. 20-22) Alabama-Huntsville Charger Chillout Tournament in Decatur, Ala. Next action for Missouri S&T will be this weekend at the Kentucky Wesleyan Challenge.

Ferris State registered a 35-18 overall record in 2008 as the Bulldogs would claim a NCAA-II Great Lakes Regional Tournament Championship title and went on to tie for fifth-place honors at the 2008 NCAA-II Softball Championships in what marked the program's third national-tourney appearance ever. FSU also produced a first-place tying 16-4 conference ledger. The Bulldogs concluded the 2008 season ranked fifth nationally in the final NFCA poll.

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