ESCANABA, MI – The Bay College Softball Team will look to improve on a very successful inaugural campaign in which they went 28-9 and were runners up in the Region 13 Tournament. The Norse will open their season with a pair of games in the Superior Dome in Marquette, MI on Saturday and Sunday.
Head Coach Heidi Charon enters her second season at the helm, and is excited for the early opportunity to get some games in. ""To be able to get even just a couple of games in at this time of year is huge for us. It breaks up the long winter indoor practice season and will give us an early gauge on what we need to work on before our Spring Break trip in early March. We have a more challenging schedule in Cocoa Beach this year, starting off with a double header against nationally ranked (13) Sinclair Community College."
The Norse will bring back five players from that team that saw so much success a year ago. Returners from last year include Beth Gannigan (SO, Coleman, WI), Kaitlyn Hardwick (SO, Gladstone, MI), Lauren La Joie (SO, Sault Ste. Marie, MI), Madison Griffin (SO, Escanaba, MI), and Richelle Vandeville (SO, Rapid River, MI). "What stands out to me when I look at our list of sophomores, is their power at the plate," said Charon. "They all did a lot of damage last year and already improved on that this past fall." Beth Gannigan led the team at the plate in the fall 2019 season with 3 homeruns, 15 RBIs and a .485 batting average.
Nine new faces round out the team. "Though we have a smaller team than I'd like, we have a lot of defensive depth because every player can contribute in multiple positions. We are also excited to see what our pitching staff can do. With three freshmen pitchers, we are young, but diverse. Eden Oswald (Bark River, MI) has a ton of strength and speed and really throws hitters off balance with her ball movement. Brittany Schwartz (Rapid River, MI) has a ton of control and all of the pitches she throws are effective. Morgan Letteriello (Gladstone, MI) will be working primarily as a relief pitcher and has already proven to be able to come in strong when we need her."
Freshman standout Lexi Chaillier (Escanaba, MI) will anchor the outfield and bring a lot of speed as a leadoff hitter. Korey Kaukola (Ishpeming, MI) is another freshman who will be anchoring the infield at shortstop and will likely make big contributions in the heart of the lineup. "Korey and Lexi are exceptionally strong all-around athletes, and we're excited to see how they continue to develop this year," said Charon.
Bay will look to a few others to provide the depth Charon talked about. Georgia Lehto (FR, Escanaba, MI) and Tatiana LaFave (FR, Bark River, MI) add to the outfield depth, while Heather Bergstrom (FR, Escanaba, MI) gives the Norse a third catcher and some depth in the infield. Taylor Hunter (SO, Gladstone, MI) joins the team this year and has shown her versatility, making the roster as a utility player.
Coach Charon expressed her thoughts heading into the weekend's opening games. "Overall, this year's team is much more prepared mentally and physically for the game season. I give credit to our sophomore class, who were intentional in setting a growth-focused tone for the team, and our freshman class for coming in with a great focus and willingness to put the work in. I also have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff (Lesley Delvaux, Bri Grimm, and Ross Rahoi) who all stepped up their game this year. The players are focused and driven to perform at the highest of levels."
Bay College opens on Saturday night when they face off with Concordia University's JV team at 11 pm. They then have a quick turnaround, facing Northern Michigan University at 10 am on Sunday morning. Both of those games are at the Superior Dome on the campus of Northern Michigan University.
After that the Norse will prepare for their annual trip to Florida. The first games of spring break will happen on March 7 from Titusville, FL. Play continues throughout the week as Bay College has 12 games scheduled before they head back north on March 13. The Norse then hit the road after that, travelling to Minnesota March 20-22 for the Region 13 crossover tournament in Rosemount.
April 25 marks the first scheduled home games for the Norse as they welcome Region 13 rivals Dakota County Technical College into town for a four-game series on that weekend. The regular season wraps up on May 3 with a pair of games at home against Gogebic Community College.
For a complete schedule and more information, go to www.baynorse.com.