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1998 NFCA Leadoff Classic: A Look at the Teams

Arizona State - The Sun Devils return six position players and one

pitcher from last Gill (.301 batting
average, six home runs, 42 RBI) was a second team all-Pac 10 and all-Pacific Region selection in 1998.

Head Coach: Linda Wells.

Boston College - Pitcher Mary Dietz, who led the Big East in strikeouts
and earned first team all-conference and all-region recognition, is the top returnee from last year's conference championship team. The Eagles, 38-14-1 overall in 1998, also return catcher/outfielder Jen Perrotta, named Big East Rookie of the Year after leading the in batting with a .321 average. Catcher/infielder Chris Vicari, who hit .310 with a Big East Conference-leading 11 home runs, also returns.

Head Coach: Jennifer Finley.

Central Michigan - Mid-American Conference (MAC) Player of the Year Tina Kinney (designated player), who hit .374 in '98, is the top returnee to a team that was 31-23-1 overall, 22-5-1 in the MAC. Shortstop Hope Robertshaw batted .303 and made the all-MAC first team as a freshman. Anne Foster (15-7, 2.16 ERA) is the top returning pitcher.

Head Coach: Margo Jonker.

Colorado State University - Five position players and two pitchers return from a team that was 30-21 last year. First baseman Alyson Carter (.364 batting average, 56 hits), shortstop/outfielder Holly Schmillen (.333,
46 hits, eight home runs, 27 RBI) and outfielder Sara Hyzer (.323, 10 stolen bases) are among five returning position players.

Head Coach: Teri Klement.

Connecticut - It's true that Boston College has won the last two Big East Conference championships, but Connecticut won six league titles between 1990 and 1996 and the Huskies would like to return to that championship form this year. Outfielder Allyson Johnson, who batted .311 last season, along with first baseman Abbie Link, who was fourth in the conference in RBIs (34) and hit a team-high three home runs, will be the Huskies' mainstays in 1999 as UConn seeks to improve on last year's 24-21-1 log.

Head Coach: Karen Mullins.

DePaul - Virtually everyone returns from a team that went undefeated through the Mid-Continent Conference and wound up 47-8 overall. Pitcher Liza Brown, who led NCAA Division I in earned run average, is one of three returning hurlers. Pitcher Nicole Terpstra, 21-4 with an 0.64 ERA last year, gives DePaul a powerful one-two pitching attack. Shortstop Karen Stewart (.353, 14 homers, 59 RBIs) and second baseman Yvette Nealy (.424, 23 stolen
bases) are key offensive players.

Head Coach: Eugene Lenti.

Florida State - Six position players and three pitchers return from a team that finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season race but came on to win the ACC postseason tournament. Pitcher Stacy Venable, who earned all-ACC Tournament honors, was 19-8 last year with a 1.77 ERA. Jennifer White, who earned all-Southeast Region second team honors as a sophomore, was 26-8 and 1.37. Offensively, the Seminoles are counting on centerfielder Dana Bailey (.342, 40 runs, 69 hits, 27 stolen bases), an all-region first-teamer, to have another big year.

Head Coach: Dr. JoAnne Graf.

Fresno State - 1998 was finally the year for the Bulldogs, as they won the WCWS championship and finished as the No. 1-ranked team in the final USA Today/NFCA poll. This year, Fresno is well-equipped to defend its title. WCWS Most Valuable Player Amanda Scott (pitcher/outfielder), a two-time All-American selection, leads the title defense, with assistance from all-WCWS honoree Angela Cervantes (infield) and All-Americans Becky Witt (outfield) and Lindsay Parker (pitcher).

Head Coach: Margie Wright.

Hofstra - America East Conference Pitcher of the Year Jen Smith (20-11,
1.18, 172 strikeouts) does more than pitch - she batted .385 with 72 hits to lead Hofstra to a 39-17 overall record and the AEC championship in 1998. Smith's pitching partner, and namesake, Alicia Smith, was nearly as impressive, going 17-6 with a 2.19 ERA on the mound and batting .320 at the plate. Both Smith's were All-Northeast Region selections in 1998, as were returnees Dona Bennett and Lameka Anderson.

Head Coach: Bill Edwards.

Louisiana State - A pair of first team all-SEC selections hope to lead LSU beyond last year's 58-14 record and 13th-place national ranking. Shortstop Tara Asbill (.395, 26 stolen bases, 51 RBIs) and second baseman Stephanie Hastings (.374, 15 steals, 34 RBI) are prepared to give SEC pitchers trouble again this season. Outfielder Dee Douglas, who batted .303 with 35 stolen bases and seven triples, will give opponents fits at the plate and on the bases.

Head Coach: Glenn Moore.

Massachusetts - Six position players and two of the top three pitchers return to aid UMass in its quest to defend the Atlantic-10 championship and first-place Northeast Region ranking. Second team All-American pitcher Danielle Henderson and all-region choice Mandy Galas (second base) are key returnees.

Head Coach: Elaine Sortino.

Michigan State - Eight starters and one pitcher return to aid Michigan State in its attempt to improve on a 34-20 overall record and move up in the Big Ten standings. All-American shortstop Stacey Phillips is the top returnee. All-Big Ten second baseman Carrie Fry is also back, as are ASA All-American travel ball players Shealee Dunavan (first base) and Tiffany Thomas (outfield).

Head Coach: Jacquie Joseph.

Michigan - The defending Leadoff Classic champion, which went on to 56-7 overall record, the Big Ten Championship, and a tie for fifth in the WCWS, is well-equipped to equal or surpass all of last year's accomplishments. The Wolverines return seven starters, including first team All-American first baseman Tract Conrad, who hit .410 and stole 17 bases in 1998.Conrad excelled in the classroom as well as on the field, earning GTE Academic All-America first team recognition. Left fielder Catherine Davie (first team All-Big Ten), catcher/third baseman Melissa Gentile (first team All-Big Ten, second team All-American) and pitcher Jamie Gillies (career record of 24-8) are set to lead the charge.


Head Coach: Carol Hutchins.

Missouri - Women's Professional Softball League draftee Kim Slover (first base, .384 batting average in 1998) and All-American left fielder Wendy Harrison (.374) are among seven position players returning to help the Tigers better last year's 36-20 overall record. Pitcher Stephanie Falk (19-13, 0.96) was an All-Big 12 honoree as a freshman. Centerfielder Stacy Geminhardt hit .349 as a sophomore.

Head Coach: Jay Miller.

Nebraska - Seven position players and two pitchers, who will attempt to lead the defending Big 12 and Midwest Regional champions to another WCWS berth, return to the Husker lineup in 1999.All-American pitcher Jenny Voss, a 40-game winner as a sophomore last year, returns, as does All-Midwest Region second baseman Jennifer Lizama.

Head Coach: Rhonda Revelle.

Nicholls State - The Lady Colonels return six position players and a pitcher from last year's 43-16 team that finished second in the Southland Conference. Catcher Angie Walker (.321 batting average) is among the key returnees. Pitcher Courtney Blades (0.82 ERA) and second baseman Melanie McMains (.298) have completed their eligibility.

Head Coach: Pattie Holthaus.

Northeast Louisiana University - The top three hitters have completed their eligibility but the Lady Indians are hoping to improve last year's 23-37 record with six returning position players and two returning pitchers. Senior first baseman Ann Clark batted .258 last year with two home runs and 16 RBIs while junior utility player Cori Scroggins hit .233 and pitched well enough to earn SLC Pitcher of the Week honors during the season.

Head Coach: Rosemary Holloway.

Oklahoma State - Three-time All-American first baseman Jaime Foutch is among seven returning position players prepared to lead the traditionally-powerful Cowgirls to a higher notch in the Big 12 standings than last year's fifth-place conference finish. Two All-Midwest Region selections, catcher/designated player Michelle Singer and catcher Liz Silva, also return. Shortstop Shannon Sullivan, who was expected to play this season, suffered a career-ending injury last fall.

Head Coach: Sandy Fischer.

Oklahoma - The Sooners, who finished second to Nebraska in last year's Big 12 race, are counting on eight returning position players and two returning pitchers to boost them past the Huskers in conference and Midwest Region standings in 1999. Among the Sooners to watch will be sophomore shortstop Lisa Carey, who earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors last year, and pitcher Lana Moran, who was second team All-Big 12 on the field and GTE Academic All-American second-teamer in the classroom.

Head Coach: Patty Gasso.

South Carolina - Outfielder Kim Pietro, who made first team All-SEC and All-Southeast Region last year after batting .333 with seven home runs and 27 RBI, is the best of seven returning position players for the Lady
Gamecocks, who are looking to better last year's 36-21 record. Kendra McCutcheon, a junior shortstop who made second team All-SEC as a sophomore in 1997, is back after redshirting last year. Pitcher Nikki Beers and second team All-SEC utility player Joyce McMillin (.309 batting average, 9-9, 2.46 as a pitcher) also return.

Head Coach: Joyce Compton.

Southern Illinois - The Salukis may be a team to keep a close eye on in 1999. Every starter and all of the top pitchers are back from last year's 32-17 team that finished third in the Missouri Valley standings. The best of the returnees is centerfielder Marta Viefhaus, who was named MVC Rookie of the Year and second team All-Midwest Region after batting .338 with eight home runs, 34 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. SIU also returns two all-MVC pitchers, Carisa Winters (16-9, 0.72 ERA, 234 strikeouts) and Erin Stremsterfer (11-6, 1.42). Stremsterfer enhanced her value with a .325 batting average.

Head Coach: Kay Brechtelsbauer.

Southwestern Louisiana - Five position players and two pitchers return to thisyear's Lady Cajuns, who would love to return to the regional and national prominence they enjoyed earlier in the decade. First baseman Jana Mower earned first team All-South Region honors last year and was named Louisiana Freshman of the Year. Outfielder Tiffany Clark (Third Team All-American two seasons ago) and catcher Kelli Bruce, who finished second in NCAA Division I in doubles last year, are key returning players.

Head Coach: Yvette Girouard.

Stanford - The Cardinal is a relative newcomer to the world of NCAA softball, but if last year's performance is any indication, Stanford will be a top contender for postseason play again in 1999. Eight position players and two pitchers return, led by Michele Acosta (.331 average, 37 RBI, third team All-Pacific Region), Jennie Foyle (.277 average, second team All-Region), Becky Blevins (24-10, 1.24 ERA, third team All-American) and Marcy Crouch (14-8, 1.35, .307 batting average, 34 RBI, third team All-American).

Head Coach: John Rittman.



Washington - The Huskies have established themselves as one of the top Division I programs in the nation in a relatively short amount of time. Last year saw UW finish 52-15 overall, second in the conference to powerful Arizona and third in the final national rankings. This year, Washington is well-stocked to contend at the national level again. Seven position players return, led by all-Pac-10 shortstop Rosie Leutzinger, who batted .321 and stole 35 bases as the Huskies' leadoff batter and all-Pac-10 pitcher Jennifer Spediacci, who was 27-6 with a 1.15 ERA. Both Leutzinger and Spediacci were second team All-Americans in 1998.

 

Head Coach: Teresa Wilson.