Over the next few days, there will be a recap of all the Storm spring seasons: one for each sport. Some of the pieces will have comments from the coaches and some will not.
The Storm softball team has fallen on hard times over the last decade or so. Since 2004, the team has had TWO winning seasons, two 20 win seasons and only two seasons with a winning conference record. Both of those seasons occurred while Lake Erie was in the AMCC (Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference) and part of Division III. From 2004-2012, the Storm has a record of 105-250. 2013 continued to show the struggle of a program that cant seem to rise up.
Record: 2-36 (.053)
- Home: 0-11
- Away: 0-17
- Neutral: 2-8
- Conference: 0-26
Notes: The Storm opened the season with a Spring Break trip to Florida. They picked up both wins by a final score of 7-6. They would not win another game the entire year. They finished 14th in the regular season standings of the GLIAC.
Streaks: The two wins stood by themselves as they came after a two game losing streak and a three as well. After that game on March 7th, the Storm dropped 31 straight game including 26 straight in the GLIAC.
High Point: 3/7 after two wins in eight games in Florida
Low Point: 4/28 following a season ending losing streak of 31 straight games, finished season at 2-36
Team Stats (Batting):
|Stat||Overall||GLIAC Rank||Conference||GLIAC Rank|
|XBH (2B/3B/HR)||23 (19/2/2)||14||14 (11/1/2)||14|
|Strikeouts||197||2nd most||123||T-3rd Most|
|On Base %||.224||14||.208||14|
Team Stats (Pitching):
|Stat||Overall||GLIAC Rank||Conference||GLIAC Rank|
|ERA||8.01||14 (highest)||8.13||14 (highest)|
|Hits||371||13 (2nd most)||276||14 (most)|
|Runs||340||14 (most)||250||14 (most)|
|Earned Runs||241||14 (most)||174||14 (most)|
|Walks||132||13 (2nd most)||86||13 (2nd most)|
|Strikeouts||99||13 (2nd least)||58||T-13 (2nd least)|
|Home Runs Allowed||32||14 (most)||26||14 (most)|
|Innings Pitched||210.2||13 (2nd least)||136.1||14 (least)|
Players: With the team hitting .184 as a whole for the season, there was a lot of players struggling to get hits and reach base. There were a few that had great seasons. Jennifer Gratz led the team in many categories including average, hits, doubles, and total bases while playing in all 38 games. There were only three girls over .200 for the season.
Individual Leaders (Batting):
Individual Stats (Pitching):
|Player||Games Started||Games||Record||Innings Pitched||Hits||Runs||Earned Runs||Walks||Strikeouts||ERA|
The Storm honored two seniors on Senior Day against Tiffin in April. Technically,they will only bid farewell to one of them. OF Chelsey Bleck and RHP Dawn Ondercin were honored by the team for their accomplishments. Bleck will attend graduate school in Florida while Ondercin will complete her final year of eligibility while going for her MBA next year.
Awards: No players were honored during the season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jennifer Gratz
Like I said above, there were only a few players that really had a good season and that is why I named Jennifer Gratz the Offensive Player of the Year for 2013. Gratz led the team in many categories including batting average (.281), hits (27), doubles (6), and total bases (33) while playing in all 38 games. Gratz showed consistency throughout the year and really played at a high level despite the team struggles. For a team that struck out 197 times during the year, Gratz only struck out 8 times. The junior is poised for a great senior season after stepping up after eight players including 10 players that did not return from 2012.
Rookie of the Year: MacKenzie Quinn and Meredith Scholle
There were 8 freshman that came on to the team following a complete roster makeover last Spring. 10 players did not return this year so there was a full freshman impact. To pick the top rookie, it came down to SS MacKenzie Quinn and C Meredith Scholle. They had near identical numbers for the year so it was tough to choose one. Quinn hit .198 in 36 games taking over shortstop from Maddi Klemp. Quinn had 19 hits including 8 RBIs and 4 extra base hits. Scholle had a .192 average in 38 games. She tied with 19 hits but led in RBIs with 11. Both of them made an impact like they were supposed to from the start. As these ladies become more developed, they will step up more.
Pitcher of the Year: N/A
As the pitching staff struggled again this year, I did not see a candidate for the Pitcher of the Year. With Coach Erika Bennett on the staff, I have said before and I will continue to believe that she will help the squad in the long run.
The following is a email interview that I conducted with interim head coach Erika Bennett.
Q: What was your take on the season?
A: “Practicing as soon as season started, the girls worked hard and seemed prepared to compete. It was not until March, as a team, it was the first time stepping on a softball field in four months. I believe it was a little uncomfortable for the girls and it made it seem like we started late in the season. I felt that it would also have an impact with the season’s outcome. The girls competed and did the best they could in Florida, but did not turn out liked they planned or how the coaches planned. As the season progressed, there were a lot of canceled or rescheduled games, which pushed our playing time back even further. This season continuously had its ups and downs, but we continuously worked hard with the girls and always praised the girls with positive feedback. Towards the end of the season it came down to only having nine players, which made it difficult for the girls and us coaches. In the end, the season did not turn out like everyone planned, but there is always room for improvement and we plan to doing that next year!”
Q: Injuries really hurt the roster at times to where the team had a straight nine for the last week or so. How did that affect the team? Did you have to make players play positions that were “new” to them in order to fill the lineup?
A: “The injuries not only affected the team, but the ones who were injured. I think the injured struggled the most because they wanted come back and help the team. This was not planned, but unfortunately things like injuries happen when players are needed most. There were also situations where we did have to put players in positions that they have never played, therefore we had girls practice different positions. It came down to moving players around in order to fill the lineup, which is not what we wanted to do but had to be done to play. ”
Q: You have a distinguished pitching career under your belt. Over the last few years, the Storm pitching staff has struggled. What have you done in the last year to try and turn that aspect of the game around?
A: “Coming in as a first year pitching coach, I found that the past few years have been a struggle for the pitching crew here at Lake Erie College. Knowing that I have competed with and against top athletes in my career, I feel that I have the knowledge to improve these pitchers with skills and techniques that I have learned or seen in my years of pitching. As of this year, I worked with proper pitching form, location, and spin. Looking back in the fall to now, my girls have improved in each area as well as gaining speed. The girls still have a lot of learning about how the game is played as a pitcher, but I think in any sport the main key ingredient in being successful is confidence. Our girls have to know that they are going to fail, but to have the confidence to get right back up and take charge. They are not only going to be working on their skills but the mental aspect as well. My objective is to pass the knowledge that I have to my girls. Not only are they going to learn while they are here, they are going to get better and have fun with the game. I hope to be the positive influence in their life and know anything is possible.”
Q: What is your goal for the 2014 season?
A: “The goal for the 2013-2014 season is to bring in a freshman class of great players and teach them what they need to know to make that difference in the program. As for our returners, the goal is to keep working hard and doing things to improve them from last year. This year we are going to be a little bit more disciplined, to where we are improving one percent and more everyday!”
Q: What will be the main thing to teach the team as there was 8 freshman on the team and they are learning the college game?
A: “I came up with a Lake Erie College Storm Softball acronym recently and I want this to be a softball tradition from here on out. I like that this idea will show the girls that each letter it has meaning when on or off the field. As returners and newcomers learn the storm softball acronym, I believe this will teach them the right kind of mind set that they need to be successful. Other than the acronym, the thing that I will teach them is that it takes a team to win and how much dedication you put into the sport is what you will get out of it.”
Down below is the Storm Softball Acronym
Strive to be the best
Make no excuses
Small things count on and off the field
Outplay your opponents
Trust your teammates
Believe in yourself
Learn to grow
Love to play!
This team has a lot of room to grow and I see coaches Morganti and Bennett really getting this team on the right track. They do have some recruits coming in the fall including local product Lindsey Valvoda from Mentor. We will see what the next step is but it will be a fun adventure to watch and I wish the best of luck to that team!