2014 Willamette Softball Season Outlook

Bearcats to Feature Young Roster Once Again

By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- With a young roster that features seven juniors, three sophomores, eleven freshmen -- and no seniors -- the Willamette University softball team will begin the 2014 season on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Northwest Cup, hosted by Concordia University at Hood View Park in Happy Valley, Ore.

Coming off a 2013 campaign that saw the Bearcats finish under .500 for just the third time in head coach Damian Williams' 16-year tenure, the Bearcats will look to rebound behind a solid mix of returning players and freshmen.

Willamette returns two of its top three hitters from last season, including sophomore Ashley Pender (2B, Reno, NV/North Valleys HS), who had a breakout freshman year and earned First Team All-Northwest Conference honors.

Pender started all 37 games she played, finishing second on the team in batting average (.359), hits (42), doubles (11), slugging percentage (.632) and on base percentage (.420). She led the Bearcats with 31 RBIs and three triples, tied for first with five home runs, and earned a team-high 74 total bases.

Jenna King (Jr., OF, Camarillo, CA/Adolfo Camarillo HS) was a Second Team All-NWC selection last year, batting .340 with 36 hits, a .387 slugging percentage and a .381 on base percentage. She tied for the team lead with 11 stolen bases.

King was also a defensive rock for Willamette last season, recording a 1.000 fielding percentage with 38 putouts.

Erin Norris (Jr., INF, Salem, OR/South Salem HS), Heather Winslow (Jr., OF, Oregon City, OR/Oregon City HS), Amanda Absher (Jr., C, Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS) and Angela Witty (So., UTL, Coburn, OR/Henry D. Sheldon HS) are other returning players expected to make big contributions to the team this year. 

In the circle, the Bearcats return both of their primary starting pitchers from last year: Hayley Glantz (Jr., Reno, NV/Robert McQueen HS) and Victoria Bradshaw (So., Discovery Bay, CA/Liberty HS).

Last season Glantz started 21 games, pitched 125 2/3 innings and recorded 57 strikeouts. Bradshaw finished with a team-low 4.85 ERA while accumulating 55 strikeouts in 104 innings pitched.

In addition, an 11-strong freshman class with several players who are expected to contribute immediately has Williams confident that Willamette is primed for a comeback in the always-tough NWC.

After a pair of contests this weekend at the Northwest Cup, the Bearcats will jump straight into conference play, facing Whitworth in a four-game series at the Willamette Softball Field on Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23.

Other schedule highlights include a 10-game, five-day road trip through Southern California over Spring Break, and a four-game series (two away, two home) against archrival Linfield College to close the season.

Ashley Pender was selected First Team All-NWC as a freshman in 2013. She led the Bearcats with 31 RBIs.

Ashley Pender was selected First Team All-NWC as a freshman in 2013. She led the Bearcats with 31 RBIs.