“This team has the most talent I’ve had in my time as head coach,” Thompson said “We have a strong group of returning players with a good crop of freshmen, giving us consistent hitting from 1-9 in our lineup. I don’t see any glaring weaknesses with this year’s team.”
Catcher Sadie Joutras and pitcher Rachel Ryan are the only 2012 starters who have not returned for this season.
The 2013 Crusaders are led by seniors Autumn Peotter, Torey DeLozier, and Susie Prusak.
Peotter, a four-year starter at left field, led the team and Northern Athletics Conference in stolen bases (37) in 2012 and needs just 38 to break the conference record of 123 set by Benedictine’s Brittany Wolski (‘09-‘12). Her relentless energy and pace in the leadoff position aids the team’s on-base percentage and run production.
Kristin Morrison, who missed most of last season after injuring her throwing shoulder, returns to second base. DeLozier, a career .342 hitter, starts at center field.
Ryan is replaced on the mound by promising freshman Hannah Clement, a Murfreesboro, TN, native with high school experience and a strong arm.
“Hannah throws very hard and accurately and can show a variety of different pitches with changes of speed,” Thompson said.
Clement joins Jana Dempsey in the starting rotation. Both will fill in at first base when not pitching.
Thompson also pointed out freshmen Emily Boogher and Samantha Swiatek as potential key contributors, with Boogher serving as the primary catcher and backup shortstop. The speedy Swiatek will back up Boogher at catcher.
Whether the talent translates into wins is not Thompson’s primary concern.
“Whether we win or lose, our goal is to honor the Lord in our conduct,” Thompson said. “I have a team philosophy of win-win-win. First, we win because we have the opportunity to play. Secondly, we win if we honor the Lord, both on and off the field. Thirdly, we want to win on the scoreboard.”