|Oklahoma Baptist Invite|
Fri, Feb 14 - Sat, Feb 15
Game Time...The Northwestern College softball team will make its season debut this weekend at the Oklahoma Baptist University Valentine's Festival in Shawnee, Okla. All of the games will be played at the Lady Bison Softball Field. Northwestern will play a total of four games over the two-day classic, beginning with a match-up against #24 Friends (Kan.) at noon on Friday, Feb. 14. They will then play #15 Oklahoma Baptist at 4pm on Friday, followed by games against Bacone (12pm) and Bethany 2pm on Saturday, Feb. 15. Follow the live stats for the OBU game at this link: Live Stats!
All-Time...Northwestern is 6-0 all-time against Bethany, including a 2-1 win over the 23rd-ranked Swedes last season. The Red Raiders are 2-0 all-time against Friends, last playing in 2000. They are 0-2 all-time against Oklahoma Baptist, losing 1-0 last year at this tournament. This will be the first ever match-up against Bacone.
#23 Friends...Ranked 23rd in the NAIA softball preseason poll, Friends is coming off a 2013 season where they ran the table in the KCAC with an 18-0 record. They also won the postseason tournament and qualified for the NAIA Softball National Championship where they finished with a 43-8 overall record.
Tony Segovia returns for his 10th season as the Falcons head coach. The five-time KCAC coach of the year lost seven all-conference players off last year's squad, including the conference pitcher and player of the year. Five starters return for the Falcons.
Two sophomores, Courtney Kifer and Christina Downs, both earned first team all-conference honors in 2013 and were preseason all-KCAC selections this year. Kifer hit .391 with 38 stolen bases while Downs hit .414 with three home runs and 30 RBIs last year. Blaire Taylor is the top returning pitcher, going 4-4 with a 4.96 ERA.
#15 Oklahoma Baptist...The Bison are ranked 15th in the NAIA softball preseason poll, its highest ranking since the 2011 season. They finished tied with Rogers State for fourth in the Sooner Athletic Conference with a 11-13 record, 33-23 overall.
Pam Fink returns for 22nd season as the OBU head coach and she returns two pitchers and seven players off last year squad. Fink has 489 wins over the course of her career.
Last season, the Bison hit a school record 62 home runs and 49 of those return this season, led by first team all-conference infielder Kenna Self. The senior hit .403 with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs. Senior catcher Dara Gray hit .336 with 12 home runs and sophomore Kasey Maddox, a first team all-conference pick last season, hit .351 with seven home runs. Noelle McDowell (15-9, 3.69 ERA) and Hannah Wilbur (11-7, 3.82 ERA) are the top pitchers returning.
Bacone...The Warriors are 0-2 this season, dropping a doubleheader to MidAmerica Christian (Okla.) earlier this week, 10-9 and 8-5.
Devin Cross returns for her second season as the Warriors' head coach and returns five starters and one pitcher off a 2013 team that finished third in the Red River Athletic Conference at a 16-7-1 record, 22-24 overall.
Senior Tarah Moutray is the top hitter returning for Bacone, batting .436 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs and earning all-conference honors. She was also the newcomer of the year. Senior Lucy Walter hit .362 with four home runs and is the also the top pitcher returning, going 10-11 with a 4.82 ERA. She earned first team all-league honors. Senior Kelli Costello, also a first team all-conference pick, hit .376 with 18 RBIs in 2013.
Bethany...The Swedes finished second in the KCAC last year with a 14-4 record and lost to regular and postseason champion Friends in the conference final. Bethany qualified for its second straight NAIA softball championship where they lost two straight and finished 31-18 overall.
Janice Esses returns for her 13th season with the Swedes and returns five starters and one pitcher off last year's squad. Esses has won over 300 games during her career and is two-time KCAC coach of the year.
Senior Kelli Traffas, a three-year starter and all-conference player, returns as the top hitter for the Swedes. Traffas hit .356 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs last season and was a preseason all-KCAC pick. Junior Camille McIver earned first team all-conference honors after hitting .389. She also was the team's second pitcher, posting a 10-5 record with a 3.07 ERA. Sophomore Ashley Montoya (.291, 6 HR) and sophomore Jordan Blakesley (.317, 4 HR) are the other top returners.
Northwestern News and Notes...The Red Raiders finished the 2013 season tied with Midland for third in the GPAC with a 13-7 record and entered the eight-team conference championship as the third seed. They defeated Nebraska Wesleyan in the first round but lost its next two games to Morningside and Midland, ending their season with a 26-22 overall record. Chris Nachtigall, who begins his third season as the Red Raiders head coach, returns seven position players, his top two pitchers and a total of 11 letterwinners off last years squad. Northwestern was picked to finish fourth in the GPAC preseason poll.
Northwestern returns its top two pitchers from the 2013 season in seniors Keely Bracelin and Katie Vande Voort. Both players are in their fourth season starting for the Red Raiders and rank among the program's top 10 in several pitching statistical categories. Bracelin earned second team all-conference honors after posting an 11-13 record and 2.75 ERA, fifth best in the league. She was fourth in the GPAC with 133 strikeouts and led the conference in batting average against (.200). Bracelin, a three-time all-conference selection, is 36-26 with a 2.63 ERA over the course of her career. She ranks 14th all-time with 14 shutouts and fifth in career strikeouts (272). VandeVoort, a two-time all-GPAC selection, led the team with a 14-9 record, posting a 3.60 ERA in 2013. She recorded 71 strikeouts and just 40 walks in 138 innings pitched. VandeVoort, the 2012 GPAC pitcher of the year, is 35-23 with a 3.29 career earned run average. Sophomore Kayla Foresman (1.0, 2.21 ERA) and freshman Morgan Means will also see time in the circle. Northwestern posted a 3.09 team ERA and gave up 3.8 runs per game in 2013.
Offensively, Northwestern averaged 5.2 runs per game and hit .284 as a team in 2013. Three seniors return to the line-up, including first team all-conference infielders Lindsey Remien and Alex Price. Remien posted a team-leading .343 batting average with six home runs and 30 RBIs. The senior has a .294 career average and is outstanding defensively at first base. Price, who also earned all-conference honors in 2011, hit .302 with 12 extrabase hits and a team-high 38 RBIs. One of the top defensive shortstops in the GPAC, Price has a career fielding percentage of .954. Jordan Biehle is the third senior returning to the line-up and has started the last two years under Coach Nachtigall. Biehle hit .275 with 21 runs and 11 RBIs last season. Juniors Jillian Kleinhesselink and Kara Nonnemacher are both two-year starters and return for their third season for NWC. Kleinhesselink, a first team all-GPAC pick last year, hit .331 with six home runs and 24 RBIs. She broke the school record and led the GPAC with 40 stolen bases last year. Nonnemacher, an all-GPAC pick in 2012, returns in the outfield and hit .274 with 26 runs and 15 RBIs in 2013. Another junior, Kourtni Robinson, a transfer from Des Moines Area Community College, will also contribute this year. Sophomores Clare Ipema, Laura Hurley and Allison Herbert all return after playing significant roles last year. Ipema starts in centerfield and hit .271 with 33 runs scored and 25 stolen bases last year. Hurley was the team's starting third baseman and hit .303 with three home runs and 35 RBIs. Herbert also started in the outfield and hit .257 with 17 runs scored last year.
Up Next...Northwestern will have two weeks off before going to play in the week long Tucson Invitational on March 3-7.
# 21 | Outfielder
Senior from Sioux Falls, S.D.
# 20 | First Base
Senior from Canton, S.D.
# 4 | Centerfield
Senior from Merrillville, Ind.
# 13 | Pitcher/First Base
Junior from Council Bluffs, Iowa