Softball expected to reclaim CCIW title

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Eric Gilbert, Sports Editor

 

Coming off of an outstanding 2014 spring campaign, the Illinois Wesleyan University women’s softball team is expected to pick up right where they left off.

In a poll on Wednesday, Feb. 11, the CCIW coaches predicted the Titans to finish first in this upcoming spring season.   The Titans finished last year with a 41-7 overall record and a 12-2 CCIW record, capturing their 12th regular season CCIW title and eighth tournament title.

Their 41 win season came to end against Wisconsin-Whitewater in the NCAA Division III Super Regional.   The Titans set school records for doubles (84), home runs (37), wins (41), pitcher strikeouts (632) and a school-record 21 game-winning streak.

The Titans lost seniors Molly McCready and Sara Rogers to graduation, who were chosen as the Pitcher and Player of the Year in the CCIW.  Even still, they bring back plenty of talent to fill the void.

Junior outfielder Hannah Bowen, a CCIW first team selection last year, started 47 games and led the team in hits (59), triples (3) and batting average (.383).  The Titans will also look to junior Kyley McKeown and senior Chloe Montgomery for offensive production.

As a sophomore, McKeown started 44 games, had 41 hits and was third on the team for runs scored (34).  Montgomery had one of the best averages on the team, (.353) while also going 6-0 on the mound with a 2.47 ERA.

Junior Jenna Nolan also returns, and is likely to be the Titans number-one pitcher in the rotation.  Nolan went 13-3 last year with a 1.56 ERA and recorded 152 strikeouts.

Last month, Illinois Wesleyan was ranked number eight in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III top 25-preseason poll.  While this is a great honor, they know that rankings don’t earn victories.

The Titans are searching for that national championship that they fell just short of last year and there’s no question they have the talent to do it.

They open their 2015 season with a pair of games in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, March 7 to start a nine-game stretch in the Rebel Spring Games.

IWU will play Wheaton (Mass) at 12:15 p.m. and College of St. Scholastica at 2:30 p.m. on opening day.