The Decaturian

2018 Millikin University Softball Preview

Dominique Bates

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As the Millikin swim team and basketball teams are wrapping up their seasons, another Millikin sports season will be beginning.

The Millikin softball team played in their season opener on Sunday, February 25 at Workman Family Softball Field against Fontbonne University.

The Big Blue are coming off an impressive 2017 season. They finished the season 32-12 overall, making the conference tournament with the number one overall seed before being edged out by Illinois Wesleyan for the NCAA Tournament spot. The most impressive stat was their home record, in which they finished 16-2. It was the first season where the Millikin softball team played at their new home, Workman Family Softball Field. While many people attribute the team’s success to the facility, senior pitcher Cathy Lebryk believes the success has to do more so with the team than the field.

“Our success stems from us working together as a team, trusting we have each other’s backs, and being a family,” Lebryk said.

The Big Blue’s impressive play led to an appearance in the CCIW Championship, where they fell to Illinois Wesleyan. The team is looking to pick up where they left off this season. With a majority of the roster returning, this is their year.

Last season’s success also stems from great coaching. Last season, it was Katie Tenboer at the helm, while Whitney Sowers served as an assistant coach. This year, the two will serve as co-head coaches. They do everything equally, which is part of the reason why they made the change to co-coaches. Along with the change in the coaching staff, the team itself will have a different look. While there are many returning players, there will also be a lot of new faces in the lineup. Seventeen of the thirty players are new to the team.

But, many of the starters are returning. The infield could be almost identical, as the only starting positions that were emptied by graduation were left and right field. The strongly senior laden squad will be led by Alyssa Voegele, Lexi Dockins, Brooke Heimerl, Chelsea Eads, Devin Curry, and Lebryk. Plus, Kailey Lyons, the reigning CCIW Player of the Year, leadoff hitter, and center fielder, is only a sophomore.

While the team is a bit different, the goals are still the same. They set the bar high. To win the conference tournament. For Lebryk, she just wants to put the team in a position where they can win. That will be based upon her pitching. She had a strong performance last season, and she is hoping to have an even better season this year. She expects the same from her fellow pitchers. If she is having a bad pitching day, she knows the rest of the pitching staff will pick up the slack.

“I think we have the strength and skill to make it happen,” Lebryk said.

Although the pitchers have proven to be strong weapons for the team, the rest of the team serves a piece of the puzzle as well.

“The team behind me has my back and makes the plays,” Lebryk said.

The team may be young, but it is the talent and the heart that will propel them to great heights. The young team still has a lot of growing and learning to do this season. They are hopeful this season will prove to be a learning experience they can look back to in future seasons. They understand that they will face adversity, but they truly believe they can overcome it and be successful. Their eye is on the prize, and there is only one way to achieve that prize.

“Do it big,” Lebryk said.

 

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2018 Millikin University Softball Preview