2007 Redhawks Softball Season Outlook
Feb. 14, 2007
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - As Lana Richmond begins her 25th season as head coach, Southeast Missouri State softball enters into the 2007 season looking to use a balance of returning players and newcomers to make a return to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference standings.
"We have several players who can play multiple positions and play them well. Our lineup will have the flexibility for different looks defensively and make playing time competitive. A roster of 16 players means our key for success is keeping everyone healthy," added Richmond.
Richmond welcomes back eight letterwinners and five starters from last season's Redhawk squad that produced a 28-24 season record that included a fifth-place finish in the OVC with a 14-13 ledger. Southeast made it to the OVC Tournament for the 13th-consecutive year and advanced to the quarterfinal round.
The returnees feature four All-OVC selections, including first-team honoree Megan McDonald (Cape Girardeau, Mo.), second-teamers Lindsay Pickering (St. Charles, Mo.) and Michelle Summers (Glendale, Calif.) and All-Newcomer honoree Lauren Bradley (Overland Park, Kan.). Seven newcomers enter their first year of NCAA softball competition in the program and look to make immediate contributions for Coach Richmond and the Redhawks this season.
Bradley is another returning player who traded time at second and at first base respectively last season. Bradley batted .271 with eight doubles and 25 RBI in her freshman season that ended with her receiving All-OVC Newcomer Team honors.
Jennifer Vasquez (Placentia, Calif.) will be called upon to play a valuable role for the Redhawks this season. Vasquez will see action at second base, back-up Summers at third and time in the outfield. Fellow newcomers Stacia Dopudja (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) and Sarah Estopare (Imperial, Mo.) bring depth to the infield. Dopudja, who also possess a strong bat, will be looked upon to fill a designated hitter role in the lineup.
Sophomore Amber Peterson (Camarillo, Calif.) and freshman Alex Ramirez (Corona, Calif.) will split the catching duties, replacing the graduated Lyndsey Webb. Peterson recorded 11 hits and seven RBI in addition to leading the team with a .991 fielding percentage last year. Ramirez brings in an aggressive style behind the plate to intensify the infield defense.
Junior Lindsey Woodworth (Sparta, Ill.) will serve as backup behind the plate in addition to providing roles at the designated player positions. Woodworth has provided great contributions to the team as a pinch-runner in past seasons.
Pickering heads into her senior year looking to place her name among several categories in the school's all-time record book. The three-year starter in center field posted a .314 batting average last season with 10 doubles, four homers and 22 RBI, while leading the team with five stolen bases and two triples.
The battle for the right and left field starting nods will be decided between Mata, junior Katie Otterness (Schaumburg, Ill.) along with freshmen Vasquez, Elise Sperakos (Nipomo, Calif.) and Samantha Espiriciueta (Belton, Mo.). Otterness strong accurate throwing arm along with experience of appearing in 40 games last season is expected to make a solid contribution her junior year. Sperakos posted a batting average of .353 in her final year as a prep player. Espiriciueta brings a strong presence to the plate and will vie for time at the designated hitter spot. Sophomore Erika Thomas (Kansas City, Mo.), a former Southeast gymnast, joins the outfield in a reserve role this season.
Dopudja and Bradley will round out the staff in their inaugural campaign on the mound. Dopudja earned all-conference accolades during her prep career, in which she posted a 0.81 ERA in her senior season.
Bradley was a star pitcher at the high school level before her freshman season with the Redhawks.
Southeast opens the season with two tournaments in Tennessee, the UT Martin Hospitality House Classic (Feb. 17-18) and the University of Memphis Blues City Classic (Feb. 23-25), before returning to Missouri for the Strike-Out Against Cancer benefit for Breast Cancer in St. Louis (March 3-4).
The Redhawks open their home schedule March 9 against Belmont before hosting the SEMO Spring Classic on March 10-11 where they will face the Bruins, Illinois State, Bradley and IUPUI. Other non-conference opponents include Ole Miss, Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State and Southern Illinois.
The OVC portion of the schedule will be tough as usual for Southeast as it welcomes five teams to the Southeast Softball Complex, which includes defending conference titleholder and preseason favorite Tennessee Tech.
The Redhawks will face last season's second-place (Jacksonville State), third-place (Eastern Illinois) and fourth-place (Tennessee-Martin) teams on the road before closing the regular season at Morehead State on May 5-6.