PREVIEW: Softball Set to Start 2011 Season
Sunday, February 13, 2011

Softball season opens its season on the road for the first 11 games, including two tournaments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Centenary is set to begin a new year with a new coach, nine newcomers and six returners.

The Ladies will be under the guidance of first-year head coach Mark Lambert, who served as Centenary's associate head coach last season before taking over the program this year.

The Ladies are coming off a 10-34 season a year ago and will play its last year in The Summit League before making the transition to the very competitive American Southwest Conference next season.

SENIORS LEAD

Seniors Lauren Highsmith and Bonnie Matak will be looked upon to lead the Ladies as veteran players. Highsmith, a right-handed pitcher from Houston, Texas, will serve as Centenary's ace in the circle, while Matak, a three-year starter from Richmond, Texas in left field will resume that role.

RETURNERS READY

A total of six returners will suit up for Centenary this season. Besides Highsmith and Matak, the Ladies return juniors Kalyn Harris, Reggie Salvatore and sophomores Bailey Boggs and Kelsey Regan-all of which earned a letter last season and played a crucial role for Centenary.

FRESH FACES

Nine newcomers are rostered for Centenary this season. Five are freshmen, one junior college transfer, a sophomore and two juniors who have already attended school prior to joining the team.

 

SCHEDULE NOTES

  • Will play first 11 games on road
  • Opens at the North Texas Invitational (Feb. 18-20)
  • Plays at Grambling (Feb. 22)
  • Travels to UTA Invitational (Feb. 25-26)
  • Opens league play at IUPUI (March 11-12)
  • Home opener vs Grambling (March 15)
  • Hosts Grambling, Central Arkansas in non-league play
  • Big games include: Nebraska, North Texas, Creighton, Tulsa, UL-Lafayette 

"We have a very tough non-conference schedule, facing several extremely talented teams. This schedule will only prepare us for Summit League play," said Lambert. "If we come out and play strong defense and make the most out of the "little things," we should be just fine.

OUTFIELD

  • One of the strengths for the team this season
  • Has two newcomers with one veteran
  • Bonnie Matak (left), freshman Nicole Warren (center), sophomore Jenny King (right)
  • Bonnie Matak: .244 avg, 44 GS, 127 AB, 19 R, 5-7 SB, 1.000 FLD% (2010)

"Bonnie has had three years of DI experience and has a great read on balls. She will captain our outfield," said Lambert.

"It will be hard to find a hole in centerfield with the speed of Nicole. Both her and Jenny have had a solid offseason for us."

INFIELD

  • Will look to fairly new infield this season
  • Kalyn Harris returns as only infield starter from last year
  • Kalyn Harris: .232 avg, 42 GS, 112 AB, 27 RBI

"Kalyn will be a force for us at first once again and at the plate," said Lambert.

  • Centenary will look to junior transfer Ashley Boccaccio (2nd base), Bailey Boggs (shortstop) to pace the middle infield
  • Sophomore catcher Kelsey Regan will be behind the plate
  • Kelsey Regan: .228 avg, 35 GS, 101 AB (2010); saw time in the outfield, catcher and as DP last year 

"We have an infield that works extremely well together and I was greatly impressed with their work ethic this fall," said Lambert. "We understand that the infield is fairly new, therefore the more reps we see, the better we will get come league play."

 

PITCHING STAFF

  • RHP Lauren Highsmith: 1-4, 7.20 ERA, 33 AP, 45.2 IP, 33 SO (2010)
  • RHP Reggie Salvatore: 0-5, 6.24 ERA, 1 SV, 26 AP, 58.1 IP, 18 SO (2010)
  • RHP Lynsi Unruh: freshman from Houston, Texas 

OFFENSE NOTES

  • Mixture of power and contact
  • Will look to use team speed on base paths

"The Ladies have put a lot of focus in this offseason on their hitting, which should be a key difference maker in close games this season," said Lambert.

COACHING STAFF

  • Mark Lamber: 1st year head coach; 2nd at Centenary
  • Alli Shepperd: 1st year as assistant coach; played four years for Ladies (2007-2010)
  • Marty Regan: 1st year as assistant coach; father of Kelsey Regan

"I was impressed with the way we performed in the fall and the focus we have put in over the course of this offseason. We will be able to compete with everyone we play if we take care of the "little things" that make this game fun to play and watch," said Lambert.

Centenary will open with Tennessee Tech on Friday, Feb. 18 at 10 am in Denton, Texas, followed by Northwestern State at 5:30 pm. The Ladies will wrap up North Texas' Invitational, playing Nebraska on Saturday at 10 am and UNT at 3 pm.