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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Spring Preview, Fastpitch: Returning core to boost

By Matt Tiano
Sports Editor

Friday, March 24, 2006

After a 7-15 MIAC campaign a season ago, the St. Olaf fastpitch squad appears as if the rebuilding stage has concluded. The team’'s 2005 win total of 14 was the most the squad had received since 1999.

Only graduating one player from last year'’s team, the Oles have closed the door to potential newcomers and left it wide open for those returning.

Head coach Ruthie Neuger plans on starting eight seniors and two sophomores, which she believes will lead to an improved MIAC finish in 2006.

“"We expect to make it to the top half for sure,"” Neuger said. "“It is our goal to make it to the MIAC tournament, in which only four teams are invited."”

Leading the pack of returners are Emily Hennig '‘08, Laura Torgerson ‘'06, Lindsay Weier '‘06, and Chelsea Rodd ‘'06.

Following the 2005 season, Hennig was a unanimous MIAC All-Conference selection, and an integral part to the rebuilding process.

In her first year, Hennig hit an impressive .389, compiled 42 hits, acquired a .509 slugging percentage and accumulated 14 walks. She led St. Olaf in all of these categories.

Accompanying Hennig in a leadership capacity is senior Weier, who last season was awarded All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Weier started 36 of 36 games, had 40 hits, including a team-high 11 doubles. She also was first on the team in runs scored with 24 and total bases with 56. On the defensive end, Weier garnered a .980 field percentage at third base.

St. Olaf also returns two experienced hurlers to the mound in Bekki Hagen ‘'06 and Laura Torgerson ‘'06. Both appeared in 18 games a season ago.

Hagen compiled an 8-9 record and a 4.29 ERA. Conversely, Torgerson was 5-12 and had a 4.72 ERA.

St. Olaf opened its season March 11 in a doubleheader in Rosemount against Buena Vista University. The Oles were swept, losing the first 2-0 and the second 10-0.

With the exception of a few chaotic innings, the Oles had opportunities to put pressure on Buena Vista, but could not acquire crucial clutch hitting.

Over Spring Break, the Oles will travel to Tuscon, Ariz., where they will play eight games over a six-day span.

“"We are looking forwad to games,”" Neuger said. “"The fact that we will be together as a team is always a big part of the trip. It is that bonding that the players will always remember."”

St. Olaf’'s home opener is scheduled for April 2, where the team will face Bethany Lutheran in a doubleheader.

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