Rebuilding project enters second year

“The University of Akron Zips softball team will be looking to get off to a swinging start in 2008 under second year head coach Julie Jones. In Jones’s first year at the helm, the team finished with a 17-25 record and is looking to build on that mark with nine juniors and seniors returning.”

The University of Akron Zips softball team will be looking to get off to a swinging start in 2008 under second year head coach Julie Jones.

In Jones’s first year at the helm, the team finished with a 17-25 record and is looking to build on that mark with nine juniors and seniors returning.

A lot of pressure will be put on the seniors to lead, especially players like senior first baseman Katrina Moffett.

As a junior she started all 42 games at first base and was second on the team with a .304 batting average and added 15 RBI. Her season also included a stellar .969 fielding percentage.

Katrina is one of our captains, Jones said. She’s been doing a great job at the plate.

Junior pitcher Julie Boyes was the team’s power hitter last season in only her second year, leading the team with five home runs and added 18 RBI.

Julia Boyes is one of our best hitters, Jones said. We need her to have a big year for us.

With the transfer of freshman Lindsay Bodeker to Ohio State, Boyes’ pitching is even more important.

Another Zips important pitcher is Cleveland State transfer Christina Swierz. Swierz played for Jones during her freshman and sophomore years at CSU and had a successful junior year with a 1.97 ERA, and was awarded the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors in mid-April.

Also in the rotation is freshman Brittany Clarke, a left-handed hurler from Boston. She is the single season and career strikeout leader at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and was a Greater Boston League All-Star.

The team’s leading batter from last season, Cali Stratton, hit .331 and has started every game she’s played at UA, starting with her freshman season.

Stratton saw her average climb nearly 100 points between her first two years and now, going into her junior season, hopes for more of the same. Joining Stratton in the outfield is junior Lisa McLean.

Like Stratton, McLean has been a starter since she was a freshman and was second on the team in hits last season with 37.

Lisa is probably our best player overall, Jones said. She is starting to learn to lead as she gets older and I expect her to hit close to .400 this year.

The Mid-American Conference looks to be very competitive this year, but Jones isn’t worried.

I just want to win, she said. Our goal is to make it to MAC tournament. We were one win away from making it last year, and I know that we have a much better team this year.

Kent State was the preseason favorite to win it, and our kids look forward to playing them. All conference games are extremely important. We won’t make the national tournament unless we win the MAC.

According to Jones, it’s believing in the system that’s making the team better already.

We need to understand the philosophy. We run and steal bases, we’re a fast team, Jones said. Once we understand what were supposed to do, we’ll be pretty good. Since I got here, players are in better shape. The year before nobody hit over .300, so we’re much more athletic.

The team is currently in between road trips, but Jones knows that the time spent together will be crucial for team unity. Even though she says progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to do.

However, she made the point that: By the time we get home we’ll be a pretty good team.

The Zips have jumped out to a 3-11 record, playing in three tourmanents. They recently came off their most successful tournament this season, going 2-3 in the College of Charleston Invitational Tournament in Charleston, SC.

The Zips are scheduled to play their first 29 games on the road.

The Zips home opener is March 26 at Lee Jackson Field against Youngstown State.


” #1.1361223:3066699370.jpg:Lisa McLean2.jpg:Junior Lisa McLean returns to the outfield this season. The Zips are 3-11 this season.:Jeff Harwell / Zips Sports Photography”