After losing their final four games of the season in doubleheaders with Edinboro University and first-place Gannon University this past weekend, the Slippery Rock University softball team finished with a 17-24 overall record on the season, including a 7-13 record in conference play to finish fifth place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West.
“Every day was a different challenge for us,” head coach Stacey Rice said. “Trying to find the kid, or the players who are going to lead us was one of those things.”
The Rock ended the season ranked sixth in the PSAC in batting average at .288, while ranking fifth in hits with 341. This was due in part to the bats from junior center fielder Emily Nagle, senior third baseman Cait Baxter and junior catcher Lauren Hawley.
Nagle, who had a break-out season, led the team in hits with 71 on the season, which broke Rice’s 10-year-old school record by seven and ranked her first on the team in batting average. The junior also ranked third in the PSAC in batting average, and second in hits. She also had a 17-game hit streak earlier in the season, and 21 multi-hit games in the 41 game season.
“We have a ton of great kids returning,” Rice said. “Nagle had the season of her life, so I’m hoping she can continue with that, but it’s going to be hard to hit that same mark.”
Third baseman Baxter finished her final season with The Rock with a bang, ending tied for first on the team in home runs with Hawley with four homers on the season. The senior was second on the team in batting average with .345, putting her at 32nd in the PSAC. Her 50 hits put her second on the team and 18th in the PSAC.
Hawely, who is tied with Baxter on the team with a leading four home runs, also is tied with Baxter in RBIs with 23 each. She finished with a .299 batting average. Sophomore second baseman Megan Brown ranked third on the team in batting average at .318, with 13 RBIs on the season.
The Green and White’s pitching consisted of a simple duo that included senior Carly DeRose and junior ace Brooke Dawson. Throughout the season, Rice would go with DeRose in the first game, followed by Dawson in most of their doubleheaders, resulting in both pitchers getting credit for all of The Rock’s wins this season. The Rock will possibly turn to a labeled captain next year as encouragement for someone to take that leadership position, Rice said.
“I have that philosophy where leaders just naturally emerge; you can’t really make them.” Rice said. “I feel like all season we were looking for that person.”
DeRose ended up with a 6-9 record this season, a 4.89 ERA, and gave up 56 runs on 82 hits with 73 strikeouts. Dawson finished off the season with an 11-9 record, posting a team-best ERA at 1.90, making her eighth in the PSAC. The junior’s 94 strikeouts rank 10th in the PSAC, and also surrendered 56 runs on 121 hits.
Rice mentioned the biggest thing she looks forward to next season are the incoming freshmen that will be joining the team.
“We have some pretty good kids coming in,” Rice said. “I think they are going to provide a push for some of the upperclassmen, and when you get that friendly competition, as a coach I get very excited.”