after compiling a 26-10 record and winning their 15th Northwest
championship in the past 16 seasons, the 2002 Lutes hope to
add to the outstanding tradition synonymous with Pacific Lutheran
go into this season with eight position starters returning from
the 2001 team that lost in the regional championship game by
one run in extra innings. Many of the returning players for
the Lutes have posted numbers that are among the best in the
conference, region and nation, as well as in PLU history.
to the traditionally difficult Northwest Conference schedule,
the Lutes will be traveling to the Los Angeles area over Spring
Break to take on opponents Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer
and Occidental. These games against West Region opponents, in
addition to the conference results, are important in determining
possible berths in the national playoffs. In three previous
years as a NCAA Division III member, the Lutes have been a national
tournament qualifier, twice reaching the regional title game.
Another exciting aspect of the upcoming season is that all but
three schools are being played on the Lutes' home field.
Senior Melissa Korb is a three-time first team all-conference
pitcher and has also earned all-region and All-America honors
in previous years. Korb, who holds the school record with an
average of 9.9 strikeouts per game, ended the 2001 season with
a 10-4 record, 1.63 ERA, and 109 strikeouts in 94 innings. Her
career numbers are astounding with a 48-8 record, 1.02 ERA and
9.3 strikeouts per game. Offensively, Korb has hit over .300
each of her three previous seasons, including a .324 average
with two home runs and 24 RBI last year. Sophomore Jewel
Koury had an outstanding freshman season with an 8-4 record
and 2.25 ERA. Offensively, she hit .391 with 20 runs, 36 hits,
three home runs and 22 RBI to earn second team All-America honors.
Korb and Koury will be taking the bulk of the pitching load
for the 2002 season. Sophomore Sara Shideler may see
some action on the mound this year as well.
The catcher position has a good mix of experience and youthful
talent. Shannon Fritzke had a solid junior year, hitting
.397 with six home runs and 30 RBI. She earned first team all-conference
and all-region honors for the third consecutive season. In 2000,
she was named the NCAA Division III Catcher of the Year and
first team All-American after hitting .510. Sophomore Resa
Lee will spend more time behind the plate in the upcoming
season and will add another powerful bat to the lineup. Adding
excellent depth at this position are freshmen Mary Jo Marquardt,
Claire Barr and Stacie Wyman.
The left side of the infield will be filled by juniors Jenny
Ferries and Alicia Guerrero. Ferries earned 2001
NWC first team all-conference honors after hitting .339 with
four homers and 32 RBI, and she will start at shortstop for
the third straight year. Guerrero, one of the quickest players
in the conference, showed continued improvement at third base
last year after moving over from second base. Guerrero had a
.316 batting average, 32 runs and seven stolen bases last year,
and could exceed those numbers this season. Shideler will try
to top last year's fielding percentage of .989 and her offensive
contribution of .287. She should show improved power numbers
in 2002. Adding more depth to first base and added power at
the plate is freshman Kristin Petersen. Freshman Andrea
Wells will most likely hold down the second base position
with her strong fielding skills and speed both on the field
and on the bases.
Last season's starting centerfielder, McKenna Dotson, will be
missed, but she was the only 2001 starter who graduated. The
Lutes return with a pair of starters in the outfield. Senior
Irene Bryant, one of the team captains along with Fritzke
and Ferris, hopes to return to the form that earned her first
team all-conference honors in 2000. Sophomore Kelsey Palaniuk
gears up for her second season with the Lutes after a promising
freshman year in which she hit .307 with eight doubles and also
played solid defense. Senior Jacy James is another candidate
for a starting outfield position, and she has proven her ability
at the plate primarily as a designated player and pinch hitter.
Returning to the team, but a newcomer to the outfield, is sophomore
Renee Clark. Clark made the move from infield and will
compete for playing time in the outfield as well as continuing
to use her speed as a pinch runner. Among the talented newcomers
with a shot at a starting spot are freshmen Jackie Nuechterlein,
Ally Mrachek and Claire Barr. Nuechterlein has shown
great speed and a strong arm during pre-season. Mrachek who
also played this fall for the PLU volleyball team has excellent
speed, while Barr joined the team in January after transferring
from College of the Siskiyous.
factors together, add in new assistant coach Carli Rasmussen,
a former Pacific Lutheran all-conference outfielder, and the
ingredients seem to be in place for continued PLU softball excellence.