Unanimous first team All-BIG EAST catcher Erin Burner returns as the squad's leading hitter in 2015.
Jan. 29, 2015
· 2015 Quick Facts
· 2015 Softball Schedule
· 2015 Downloadable Schedule (PDF)
· Follow St. John’s Softball on Twitter
QUEENS, N.Y. – With the first week of spring practice officially in the books, the St. John’s softball team is set to embark on the journey to the 2015 BIG EAST Tournament as “The Road To Rosemont” officially begins on Feb. 6 at the Campbell/Hampton Inn Invitational in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
“I think this year has the potential to be even better than last year,” said head coach Amy Kvilhaug. “Not that I like this team better than last year’s team, but we’re just growing and I thank last year’s team for setting the foundation for where we are going now.”
The Red Storm is looking to continue its momentum after an impressive fall season where the squad went 5-0-1 in its home tournament schedule, outscoring its opponents 35-9 while hitting .305 as a team. Over its six games, the Red Storm’s pitching staff held opponents to a .186 average while posting a 0.90 ERA with 27 strikeouts through 40.0 innings of work.
“This fall was unbelievable in terms of the team’s cohesiveness and chemistry,” said Kvilhaug. “That became the glue that has held us together from the start.”
Seniors Erin Burner and Ellen Czuba have stepped up as the leaders of the team so far this season, taking charge of a squad made up of six freshmen, six sophomores, five juniors and four seniors.
“Erin and Ellen have exceeded every expectation of what a leader is about,” shared Kvilhaug. “They’ve been great. Erin went from not saying a word on her recruiting trip to now commanding the respect of her teammates and Ellen has the ability to just come in and tell it how it is and everyone will listen. Those two came in with a drive this year that is even more than they had as juniors.”
Not only is Burner a leader off the field, but the NFCA First Team All-Great Lakes and unanimous first team All-BIG EAST catcher returns as the Red Storm’s leading hitter in 2015. Heading into the season with a .338 career batting average, Burner is only 16 doubles and 12 home runs from setting the program’s career records in each category while chasing down the career batting average record of .350.
The Red Storm’s strong depth starts behind the plate with sophomores Katilyn Wilkens and Alyssa Rusch returning to the squad while freshman Savannah Warren looks to compete for a spot in the battery as well.
Despite losing a pair of arms last year in Ashley Beza and Aleshia Link, the Red Storm returns two of its top pitchers from last season in junior Tori Free (13-15, 2.95 ERA) and senior Francesca Carrullo (7-2, 3.33 ERA) as well as sophomore Grace Kramer (2-2, 6.32 ERA) who stepped up in her rookie season last year. The Red Storm will also have the addition of a 5-10 freshman McKenzie Murray who looks to make key contributions to the staff as a rookie.
After setting the program’s single-season record with 27 double plays, the dynamic duo of sophomores Lexi Robles and Monique Landini will return to the middle of the infield this season while freshmen Krystal Puga and Hannah Anderson will look to step in and fill the open spots at the corners. Junior Carly Williams will also be stepping up, splitting time at first base and designated player, while freshman Taylor Stimson and junior Shirley Chui add an extra layer of depth around the diamond.
“Although we may be losing some average with Jackie [Reed] and [Kaitlin] Fitzgerald leaving, we’re going to make it up with our speed this year,” said Kvilhaug. “Hannah [Anderson] can deflate a defense with her speed while Carly [Williams] and [Krystal] Puga have shown a lot of power. Puga came and set a tone for our team out of the gate with an opposite home run in her first at bat of the fall.”
The depth for the Red Storm continues in the outfield with a returning trio of senior Ellen Czuba, junior Yvonne Rericha and sophomore Brittany Garcia while freshman Lauren Zick looks to take over in center for Kelsey Moyer. Junior Taylor Hill also returns to the squad as an extra layer of depth in 2015 while senior MacKenna Neuroth has proven her ability to step up and fill in at either the outfield or second base.
“Physically I think our team has all the tools we need,” said Kvilhaug. “We have depth, versatility and speed and we just keep growing.”
For all the latest news on the St. John's softball team, log on to RedStormSports.com and follow the team (@StJohnsSoftball) on Twitter. You can join the conversation with the hashtag, #SJUSB. If you would like to be added to the St. John's softball mailing list, send an email to email@example.com with the subject line "Softball Mailing List".