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Defending SCAC Champion Tigers Open Season This Weekend

Defending SCAC Champion Tigers Open Season This Weekend

March 6, 2009

soultz iwu040108.jpgMarch 6, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. —  After losing four games to Mother Nature last weekend, DePauw's softball team is scheduled to open the 2009 season tomorrow with games at Maryville (Tenn.) College.

DePauw faces Maryville and Piedmont in Saturday single games before taking on Eureka and Maryville on Sunday.

The Tigers enter the 2009 season with high expectations after completing a 40-4 campaign last year which included the program’s first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and its second straight NCAA Division III tournament appearance.

The Tigers return 12 letterwinners including starters at every position and were ranked seventh in the Division III Coaches’ Preseason Poll before moving up to a tie for sixth in the first in-season poll.

After opening the 2008 season with a loss, the Tigers responded with 37 straight wins including three at the SCAC tournament to clinch the conference’s automatic qualification into the Division III Championship.

DePauw, ranked number one for much of the season, was one win away from advancing to the NCAA finals for a second straight year, but suffered a pair of extra-inning losses to eventual runner-up Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Leading the way is junior and two-time all-America pitcher Megan Soultz (pictured above left). The Honda Division III Woman of the Year finalist and SCAC Pitcher of the Year posted a 36-4 record with a 0.98 earned run average. Her 36 wins led the nation and were the fifth-highest single-season total in Division III history.

Soultz, an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection, also was ninth in Division III in ERA and recorded school records of 260 strikeouts and 15 shutouts in a record 265 1/3 innings. Her 44 starts rank in a tie for third in Division III history.

Junior Kristin Barrow compiled a 4-0 record with a 1.38 ERA last season in just over 25 innings. Also a  member of DePauw’s nationally-ranked women’s basketball team, Barrow will join the team in March.

rachelgill042807.jpgSenior catcher Rachel Gill (pictured right) was a second team all-America choice after hitting .408 and committing just one error behind the plate last season. DePauw's all-time hits, homers and RBI leader, Gill drove in 41 runs last season and is a career .429 hitter with a lifetime .636 slugging percentage. The three-time all-region and first team all-conference selection was also the 2007 SCAC Player of the Year.

DePauw returns an experienced outfield with junior Kaitlyn Davitt in left as well as seniors Carolyn Bartlett and Chelsy Patterson in center and right, respectively. The three committed just one error combined in each of the last two seasons.

Davitt earned third team all-region honors after hitting .320 last season and was a second team all-SCAC choice for the second straight year.

Bartlett hit .346 last season on the way to first team all-conference honors for the second time in her career. The 2006 SCAC Player of the Year was also a second team all-conference selection in 2007.

Patterson, a second team all-SCAC choice, batted .297 in 2008 along with 22 stolen bases in 24 attempts. She also earned first team honors in 2007 and honorable mention in 2006.

The Tigers' infield is solid as well with the return of a pair of all-region players on the corners. Sophomore first baseman Ashlee Anton and junior third baseman Kelly Schwerzler each were third team all-region selections last year.

Anton, a second team all-SCAC selection, led the Tigers with a school-record six homers in her rookie campaign and drove in a team-high 42 while hitting .323 and committing just one error. Schwerzler batted .314 in her first season as a starter and committed just five errors on the way to earning all-SCAC honorable mention.

Those battling for middle infield spots include senior Lauren Rees as well as sophomores Brianne Weeks and Emma Minx. Rees started 30 games at second and was an SCAC honorable mention choice in 2006, while Weeks started 38 games at shortstop last year and stole 11 bases in 13 tries. Minx filled in at both spots throughout the season and was a designated player as well with a .350 average with team-bests of four triples and a .600 slugging percentage. Sophomore third baseman Kristen Gersch hit .273 in 11 games last season.

Among newcomers who could make an impact are outfielder/infielder Rachel MacBeth, third baseman Jennifer Kosinski and catcher Haley Buchanan. Alexis Travers, Cymone Allen and Holly Paris will also add depth for the Tigers.

In addition to a tough conference schedule, the Tigers face a challenging non-conference slate with 12 games against six schools ranked in the top 25 in the nation. That includes three schools ranked in the top eight.

The Tigers’ first home game is set for April 4 with an SCAC doubleheader against Sewanee.