BUCKHANNON - West Virginia Wesleyan's softball team made school and league history in 2012, winning the Regionals and advancing to the Super Regional, falling just one game short of advancing to the College World Series.
After taking the West Virginia Conference title and embarking on a storied run through the regional tourney, Wesleyan won game one of the best-of-three series against Kutztown. Unfortunately for the Lady Bobcats, Kutztown rallied to take the final games of the series.
"We got a taste of what it's like to get that far," senior Kaitlyn Carey said. "This year we have the goal of getting back there and advancing even further."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Andrew Ferguson
Wesleyan’s Kaitlyn Carey releases a pitch during a game last season. Carey and the Lady Bobcats hope to take the next step this spring after coming one game away from reaching the College World Series in 2012.
Wesleyan's veteran head coach Steve Warner enters his 21st year at the helm of the program. He has posted a 779-284 career mark and will likely record win No. 800 during the current campaign. He has coached the 'Cats to 17 WVIAC regular season titles and 15 tournament titles. On 14 occasions, he has been voted as the league's coach of the year.
Last season, Wesleyan did it primarily with pitching and defense. While the offense was down at times late in the season, Warner does return some strong bats to the lineup. Wesleyan closed 2012 with a 43-14 overall record.
Three Wesleyan pitchers posted ERA's under 2.00 last season, including the graduated Hillary Perez-Ashley, who was 20-4 with a 1.51 ERA. However, back are the talented arms of Jacqui Omichinski (Jr, Abbottsford, B.C.) and Carey (Sr., Orlando, Fla.). Omichinski was 15-6 with a 1.30 ERA while logging 129.0 innings of work, while Carey was 8-4 in 81.2 innings of work.
"We need to have some solid years out of both Omichinski and KC," Warner said. "Plus we have to be more productive on the offensive end, especially when it comes to getting some timely hitting."
Senior shortstop Paige Cummings (Acton, Calif.) leads the offense after hitting .433 last season. She drilled five home runs and led the team in hits (74), RBIs (48) and extra base hits (19). Carey and Omichinski also play as position players, usually at first base or DH when they are not pitching. Carey led the squad with eight home runs while hitting .333 with 40 RBIs. Omichinski hit .353 with a team high 16 doubles.
Alex Furr (Jr., Hurricane) returns at second base. Last season Furr hit .264 and recorded team highs with three triples and 21 walks. Sophomore Megan Malenstyn (Surrey, B.C.) is back at catcher after hitting .325 during her rookie season. Utility player Amanda Davis (Soph., Salem) hit .299 as a freshman and will likely see most of her action as an outfielder this Spring. Junior Breanna Taylor (Racine, Ohio) and sophomore Nicole Friedemann (Canby, Ore.) also return after seeing considerable outfield time last season. Friedemann his .275 with Taylor hitting .194.
"We have a solid non-conference schedule and hopefully that can prepare us for the games we have later in April and May," Warner said.