SEASON PREVIEW: A Look At The 2014 St. John's Softball Season|
Feb. 3, 2014
QUEENS, N.Y. – The St. John’s softball team has a lot to look forward to in the 2014 season with 14 players returning from last year’s squad, including all four members of their pitching staff.
“We have added a great deal of depth and coupled it with some nice talent this season,” said head coach Amy Kvilhaug. “Our upperclassmen have recognized that we have the opportunity to have a very successful season this year.”
The Red Storm faced early struggles in 2013, going 5-19-1 in the first half of the season before turning things around with a 12-16 second-half mark, winning five of its last seven games.
About The Team
The 2014 squad is made up of a combination of 14 returning players, including four seniors, four juniors and six sophomores, as well as the addition of eight new freshmen.
“Our returners will be looked at to hold the bar high, both in their own expectations and those of the team,” said Kvilhaug. “The right kind of solid leadership from our captains and experienced upperclassmen will be the glue that holds it all together.”
Returning For The Red Storm
St. John’s will be returning a core of 14 players from last season’s roster, including all four members of the Red Storm pitching staff and five of its top six hitters. Leading the way will be seniors Ashley Beza, Jackie Reed, Kelsey Moyer and Aleshia Link.
Beza pitched in 19 games last season before suffering a season-ending injury against Iona on April 13. In 99.2 innings of work, Beza posted a 4.00 ERA with 58 strikeouts, six complete games, one shutout and a save. Over her three seasons, Beza has accumulated 89 career appearances closing in on the record of 129, held by both Gina Calabrese (1998-01) and Lisa Geer (2005-08).
Link will also return to the circle for the Red Storm after appearing in 16 games last season, including three starts. Over her three years, Link has posted an ERA of 5.30 with 90 strikeouts, six complete games and one save.
Named an All-BIG EAST Third Team member last year, Reed looks to take a leadership role for the St. John’s offense this season after finishing 2013 with a .341 batting average, .595 slugging percentage and .393 on-base percentage and led the team with 12 doubles.
Moyer will be stepping up as the Red Storm’s centerfielder this season after starting every game in 2013. Throughout her three-year career, Moyer has played in 129 games, recording 99 putouts and 12 assists while only committing three errors.
Burner finished 2013 with a .344 batting average, .578 slugging percentage and .378 on-base percentage and led the team with 36 RBI and two intentional walks. With seven doubles in conference action last season, Burner finished tied for fifth in the BIG EAST, only one shy of the lead.
Carrullo returns to the circle for the Red Storm this season after appearing in 14 games last year, starting five and completing two. Over her two years with St. John’s, Carrullo has struck out 83 batters, appearing in 46 games with 19 starts and nine complete games.
Czuba looks to return to the outfield this year after playing in 44 games last season, recording 20 putouts without committing an error.
After playing in 51 games last year, the majority of them at second base, Neuroth looks to spark the Red Storm offense after finishing with a .220 average including seven doubles and seven walks. Over her two seasons with the Red Storm, Neuroth has been hit-by-pitch 11 times, leaving her halfway towards the program record of 22 held by Chelsea Durning (2008-11).
Last season, Free was named an All-BIG EAST Third Team member after an impressive rookie season, posting a 2.65 ERA with 16 complete games, three shutouts and 207 strikeouts.
Williams led the team last season with a .361 average through 21 games, while adding a .417 slugging percentage and a .410 on-base percentage. Rericha started in every game for the Red Storm in 2013, posting a .258 average with 14 stolen bases and led the league with four triples.
New Additions To The Red Storm
St. John’s will add eight new members to the 2014 squad, all joining the team as freshmen: Lexi Robles, Kaitlyn Wilkens, Brittany Garcia, Kaitlin Fitzgerald, Monique Landini, Grace Kramer, Alyssa Rusch and Mackenzie Cleary.
“When we recruited this class, the expectation was that they were going to step in and make an immediate impact,” said Kvilhaug. “While it will still be very new and there will be a lot for them to learn at the Division I level, I anticipate that they will adjust and adapt quickly.”
The Red Storm will be returning all four members of the pitching staff (Free, Beza, Carrullo and Link) from last season while adding the freshman Kramer to the already deep roster.
“We truly have a full staff this year and all five pitchers have put in a great deal of work over the fall season,” stated Kvilhaug. “I’m very excited to see them perform this spring.”
The staff combined for a 3.80 ERA in 2013, holding opponents to a .265 average while finishing fifth in the BIG EAST with 313 strikeouts.
Behind The Plate
Joining the depth in the circle this season will be a three-deep roster behind the plate as the multi-positional Burner returns to the battery along with a pair of freshmen in Wilkens and Rusch.
“I love our catching staff this year,” said Kvilhaug. “They provide us with strong arms and really have developed a good rapport with our pitching staff.”
Around The Diamond
After turning 17 double plays last season, the Red Storm expects to have one of the strongest infields in recent program history in 2014.
“We’ve certainly had some great infielders come through our program, however I believe that this year we are really going to take things to a new level based on the sheer versatility and talent of our veterans and newcomers combined,” claimed Kvilhaug.
Kvilhaug expects to see a lot of competition at the corners for the Red Storm this year with Reed, Fitzgerald, Cleary and Landini, while the middle looks to be a combination of Burner, Landini, Robles and Neuroth.
Covering The Outfield
With a roster size of 22 this season, the Red Storm outfield has significant depth available combined with a mix of versatility and speed that Coach Kvilhaug will look to utilize in 2014.
“We have some really nice speed and experience in the outfield,” said Kvilhaug. “Much will depend on offensive production and the infield combinations we use, as well as the who is performing best defensively in that mix.”
Moyer looks to lead the way in centerfield for the Red Storm this year with Czuba, Neuroth, Rericha, Garcia, Hill and Robles all competing for an outfield position.
About The Schedule
The Red Storm will compete in 54 regular season games this season as well as an exhibition game against the three-time European champion Dutch National Team on March 5 in Clearwater, Fla.
Among the competition this season are seven teams that competed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including No. 19 Louisville, No. 21 UAB and No. 23 Georgia. The Red Storm opens its season on Feb. 7 with a pair of games in Boca Raton, Fla. as part of the FAU “Kick-Off” Classic against Tulsa and Ohio State beginning at 9 a.m.
Admission to all home games for the 2014 Red Storm softball season is free to fans of all ages. For more information on Red Storm Field, including how to donate to the new Red Storm Field project, click here.
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