Jan 29, 2019

2019 Softball Season Preview

A Winning Tradition

 
  • Two NCAA Regional Tournament Appearances (2016, 2018)
  • Five Northwest Conference Tournament Appearances (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Six NFCA All-West Region Athletes (One first-team, three second-team, two third-team) 
  • 4 Northwest Conference Coaches of the Year
  • 1 (NFCA) Division III National Pitcher of the Week (Abbie Bergerson, 2015)
  • Two National Top-25 Rankings (2016, 2018)
  • One NAIA Regional Tournament (1994)
  • One NAIA District Championship (1994)
  • One Cascade Conference Championship (1994)
  • 1 NAIA District Coach of the Year
 

By: Jake Bienvenue

NEWBERG --- Young, talented and excited, the George Fox softball team is preparing to carry the tradition of success into the 2019 season.

Full Roster | Full Schedule 

The Bruins had quite a year in 2018. With seven seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores and only four freshmen on the roster, they were seasoned and ready to make their mark – and they certainly did. Statistically speaking, last season was the best in program history. The team went 24-4 in conference play, hit the most home runs in the NCAA, and had the best pitcher in the conference in Madison Sorensen (Northwest Conference Pitcher of the Year).

But things look different this time around. The roster is made up of four seniors, five juniors, three sophomores, and 13 freshmen. There are more fresh faces than there are returners. 

The word of 2019 for the George Fox softball team is "fusion": past and present, youth and experience, legacy and potential. Head Coach Jessica Hollen does not think negatively of this tension, however.

"As we continue to build this program, each class that graduates have left it in a better place," she says. "They've left a legacy. You may graduate people, but you hope that what they have built stays."

With a different dynamic on the team this year, there are different ways to measure success. But one of the foundations that have remained constant is the expectation that the team plays to the very best of its abilities. As a coach, Hollen strikes a delicate balance between the expectation of future success and focus on the present.

"It's fun to dominate statistically. It's fun to win. But are we getting better every single day?"

Even with a different level of experience, the expectation is the same from year-to-year: win a conference championship. And, as always, the Bruins are filled with talent and capability.

The returning junior class dominated offensively last season. Allison Meyer and Roni Braun return as the top two home run hitters in the Northwest Conference, hitting 15 and 12, respectively. Also back are Aaliyah Kautz and Savannah Vargas, who each batted in more than 30 runners.

The freshman pitching class will have a huge boost in being able to lean on senior catcher Alyssa Gonzalez. Gonzalez batted in 35 runners last year and will have the opportunity to help the young pitching crew establish a rhythm.

The schedule, both in the conference and out, will provide ample opportunity for the team to see where it stands. The Bruins will face a stretch in March where they play a grueling 22 games in 22 days from March 9 to March 31.

"Our conference is tough, but we weren't the only team to graduate people," said Hollen. "Success early sets a tone."

The feeling among the players and coaching staff is not fearful, however. There is a sense of excitement and cohesion as the Bruins get ready for the season.

"Our women have done a really good job developing and buying into the system. I'm excited to get into games and see where we stand," Hollen said.

The Bruins kick off their season with a doubleheader, hosting Oregon Tech on Sunday, Feb. 3, at noon and 2:30 p.m.