Softball excited for next season after record breaking year
NC season stats
By ZACH BOND
GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado softball program has wrapped up one of its most productive years in school history.
In a year that saw the Bears set the Division I mark with 25 wins, the squad finished the season with a 25-27 record and a 10-10 mark in PCSC play.
Along with earning the most wins in Division I history, the 2012 Bears also set 20 other school Division I team records -- with a number of offensive, defensive and pitching records all falling.
The Northern Colorado offense was a juggernaut all year -- shattering Division I school records in batting average (.291) and slugging percentage (.436). Its .388 on base percentage was not only a school-record, but also the best in the PCSC.
As would be expected with averages like these, a number of other offensive records also fell; including hits, doubles, triples, home runs, total bases and runs batted in. Of the 19 triples the Bears legged out, 12 of them came from freshman Melissa Marcovecchio, who currently leads the nation in three-baggers and shattered the previous school record.
The Bears also broke the school record for walks -- earning free passes 205 times, a staggering 86 more walks than the mark set last year.
“To have broken that many team records in one year in a tremendous accomplishment,” Northern Colorado coach Mark Montgomery said. “And the fact that we were such a young team breaking those records really bodes well for the future and what we hope to have happen.
“All the ladies participated in these records -- whether it was somebody getting a hit, an RBI or anything else. There were countless times when different people were coming through, so that really did make these true team records.”
The Bears were also terrors on the base paths -- stealing a school record 66 bags in 2012. Helping lead the charge in steals was senior Erin Geddis. Her 18 stolen bases this season and 50 career steals are both Division I school records.
Junior newcomer Lindsey Smith also played a large role in the Bears’ offensive dominance. The first-year Bear set eight single-season offensive records. Her batting average (.382), slugging percentage (.745) and on base percentage (.479) were all Division I bests.
The power-hitting outfielder also broke or tied school single season records in doubles (16), homeruns (13), total bases (117), walks (30) and runs batted in (51).
Not surprisingly, Smith and Marcovecchio finished with the top-two batting averages in school history -- with Marcovecchio finishing with a school-record 67 hits.
“Both Lindsey (Smith) and Melissa (Marcovecchio) were so instrumental in our success this year,” Montgomery said.” Not only are they at the top of a number of records, but they’re both also such great young ladies. They both work so hard and as good as their numbers are this year, I honestly expect them to be better next year because I think they’re both going to work hard to be the best they can be.”
The Bears proved though that they were not only an offensive-minded club, as the pitching staff and defense was also stronger this season.
The Northern Colorado pitching staff, led by two freshmen and a sophomore, posted a school Division I record 5.11 earned run average while throwing a school-record 345 innings. The Bears’ seven saves shattered the previous record of three -- while sophomore Megan Wilkinson’s school-record five saves is currently tied for the eighth most in the country.
With the Bears getting a school-record 25 wins, the wealth was distributed remarkably evenly to three different pitchers. Wilkinson, along with freshmen Kelci Cheney and Mikayla Duffy, all finished with eight wins -- each finishing tied with each other for the second-most in school history behind the mark of 11 set last year by Kelli Henderson.
Under Montgomery’s watch, the Bears’ pitching has improved dramatically with some of the most drastic improvements coming in the number of walks allowed. Last season, the Bears set the school-record after giving up just 134 walks. This season, they followed it up with the second-fewest walks allowed (147).
On defense, Northern Colorado also showed flashes of brilliance -- finishing with the second-highest fielding percentage in school-history (.957) while dealing with the most chances (1591).
The Bears were especially efficient at limiting opposing teams on the base paths. With the help of senior Erin Wilkinson behind the plate, the team allowed just 54 bases to be stolen against them -- a school record. Wilkinson was solid all season as catcher, setting the school-mark with just five pass balls.
In fact, the senior trio of Geddis, Wilkinson and Alex Neely will walk away with a number of Division I career records.
Wilkinson and Geddis will finish with the most and second-most games played, with Wilkinson starting all 205 games she played in, while Geddis appeared in 202.
Wilkinson, the four-year fixture behind the plate, finished her career with school records in homeruns (14), runs batted in (88) and walks (68). She also finished number two in runs scored (99) and number four in career hits (152).
Geddis, a speedy centerfielder, leaves Northern Colorado as the career record holder in most sacrifice hits (24) to go along with her record for career steals.
Neely, a utility player from Windsor, Colo., wrapped up her career holding the career mark for sacrifice flies (6) while finishing number four in doubles (20), number five in homeruns (12), and number two in runs batted in (78).
“First of all, you can’t say enough about those three seniors,” Montgomery said. “They were here prior to my arrival, but they adapted to me and my coaching style and what we are trying to accomplish. They were instrumental in really establishing the foundation for what we’re building for the future, so I think it’s fitting that their names are up and down the record books among the great Northern Colorado softball players.”
All three seniors will surely be missed by Montgomery and the rest of the Bears, but the future is bright in Greeley as a majority of the roster will be back next season. With a young pitching staff a year older and more experienced and a lineup full of both power and speed, it is clear the Northern Colorado has its eye on a conference championship, and maybe more, in 2013.
“All these records are great, but let’s be honest -- everything comes down to wins. We’ve got to find a way to win more ballgames, but I think if we continue on the path we’re on, where we really focus on the process and working hard every day, I think the wins will come. I’m just excited to see what the future holds and see just how great this softball team can become.”