BELTON (February 15, 2013) -- The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor softball team will open defense of its American Southwest Conference West Division title with a home doubleheader this weekend. The Cru will open the 2013 season with a 1:00 PM doubleheader against defending American Southwest Conference champion U.T.-Tyler on Saturday at Dee Dillon Field.
UMHB returns ten letter winners, five starters and two pitchers from a team that finished 26-17 overall last season. The Cru posted a 20-4 record in ASC play to win its fifth West Division title in the last six years and UMHB has won seven West Division crowns overall. UMHB will have seven All-West Division selections returning to form the nucleus of the team. Pitcher Rebekah Ragsdale (Jr., West-Orange Stark) was a First Team All-West selection and also earned West Division Pitcher of the Year honors. Outfielder Janie Neyland (So., Franklin) was a Second Team All-West pick and West Division Freshman of the Year. Third baseman/shortstop Caitlin Bollier (Sr., Kerrville Tivy), catcher Chandler Henson (Jr., Van Alstyne) and pitcher Ariel Kemmerer (Sr., Little Elm), outfielder Leanne Hinojosa (So., Edinburg) and utility player Caryn Bintz (So., Salado) all took Honorable Mention All-West honors.
Ragsdale and Kemmerer are the top returners on the pitching staff. Ragsdale went 14-7 overall with six shutouts, two saves, 87 strikeouts and a 2.46 ERA. Kemmerer went 7-4 with a 1.99 ERA. Newcomers Alissa Fincher (Jr., Cameron Yoe), Kourtney Bevers (Fr., Liberty Hill), Halle Sabo (Fr., Baytown First Baptist) and Taylor Grissom (Fr., Klein Collins) will also compete for time in the circle and provide depth on the pitching staff for the Cru.
Bollier, Neyland, Hinojosa, Henson and Bintz should once again highlight the offense for the Cru. Neyland hit .382 last season with 10 RBI, Hinojosa, hit .324 and drew 14 walks, Bollier was a .313 hitter with 24 RBI, Henson hit .293 and threw out seven base stealers and Bintz batted .299 with a home run. Brittany Moreno (Sr., Austin Bowie) also returns after sitting out last season and Dayton Kunz (So., A&M Consolidated) and Tori Gomez (Jr., Pflugerville) were key contributors last season who will battle for larger roles this season. Infield help with come from a deep group of newcomers that includes: Hannah Parker (Fr., Bryan), Hollie Chennault (So., St. Joseph’s), Hailee Smith (Fr., Burleson), Heather Smith (Fr., Burleson) and Sabo. Bevers will also compete for a starting spot in the outfield once basketball season ends. She is currently a starting guard for the Lady Cru basketball team.
The coaching staff of head coach Larry Hennig and assistant coach Julie Norris returns for a third season after earning ASC West Division coaching staff of the year honors each of the past two years. Following Saturday’s doubleheader, the Cru will have a week off before playing four games in two days at the Louisiana College Tournament next weekend. UMHB will open ASC West Division play with a four-game series at Concordia Texas on March 8th and 9th. The UMHB athletic department will also provide free live video streaming and live statistics of Saturday’s doubleheader.