February 18, 2009

Butler Opens 2009 Softball Season In Texas

Feb. 18, 2009

With snow swirling in the Midwest and temperatures hovering in the 30's, Butler's softball team will head south to begin the 2009 campaign. The Bulldogs will get their first taste of outdoor competition when they play five games in the six-team North Texas Sleep Inn Classic in Denton, Texas, Feb. 20-22.

Butler will open the 2009 season against Central Arkansas on Friday (Feb. 20) at 12:30 p.m. (CT). Head coach Jeanne Rayman's squad then will face Wichita State at 5:30 p.m., on Friday. Saturday's schedule will send the Bulldogs against Missouri State at 10 a.m., and host North Texas at 3 p.m. Butler will close out the tournament weekend against Iowa State on Sunday (Feb. 22) at 10 a.m. The games will be played at Pioneer Field on the North Texas campus and at Lovelace Stadium in Denton.

The Bulldogs return 10 letterwinners from last year's 17-29 club, led by senior infielder Alex Boros. A starter in 45 games last season, Boros led the Bulldogs with five home runs and 27 runs batted in, while batting .265. Butler also returns three players who started all 46 games a year ago. Sophomore centerfielder Erin Jackson batted .257 and led Butler in steals with seven, while junior shortstop Bridget Paine batted .221 with eight doubles, one home run and 13 RBIs. Outfielder Lindsay Schluge batted .204 with seven doubles, one home run and 16 RBIs.

Rayman also can call on returning catcher Melissa Shofroth, who started 40 games behind the plate. Junior Annie Dolan also returns, after missing nearly all of last season with injury. Dolan batted .281 with nine doubles, one triple, two home runs and 22 runs batted in, while starting all 50 games at third base in 2007.

The Bulldogs have to replace top hurler Nikki Naffziger, who graduated last year, but juniors Kristen Malinkey and Jennifer Chasteen and sophomore Lauren Ott all return. Malinkey won five games last season and finished with a 4.21 earned run average, while Chasteen had a pair of victories and a 4.37 ERA in 14 appearances. Ott posted a 2.63 ERA and a 3-1 record in eight appearances.

Rayman also will get her first look at a promising freshman class that includes high school All-American Erin Falkenberry, all-state pitcher Breanna Fisher, infielder Kayla Gray, utility players Rachel Brummer and Lauren McNulty, catcher/infielder Alyssa Coleman, infielder Paige Ashton and catcher Mallory Winters. Several are expected to make immediate contributions to the Bulldogs.

Following the season-opening tournament in Texas, the Bulldogs will take a brief break before heading to Florida to compete in the Rebel Games, March 8-14.