Purdue North Central Head Softball Coach Jeff Boardman has high expectations for the 2013 Panthers. Boardman, now in his eighth season stated that this could be the best pitching staff he has ever coached.
Leading the pitching staff is senior Jaci Williams (Monticello, IN). Williams, a multi-position athlete started 24 games in the circle for PNC pitching 136 innings and earning an ERA of 3.44 last season. A tireless player, Williams not only brings solid pitching but a strong bat as well. When not pitching, Williams will be behind the plate calling the shots for her fellow pitchers. Last season she batted .275 in 120 at bats and added 5 doubles and 12 RBI.
Returning to the field after an injury-shortened 2012 season, junior Lanay Parks (Valparaiso, IN) hopes to return to her CCAC award winning form. In 2011, Parks lead the team with 27 starts, earning an ERA of 2.85 in 169 innings. Her efforts earned her CCAC Second Team All-Conference honors.
Amber Welsh (Crete, IL) returns for her senior year healthy and determined. Welsh has been plagued with injuries the previous two seasons and saw limited play. Now healthy, Welsh looks to pick up more innings and add depth to the pitching staff.
Rounding out the pitching staff are Freshmen Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, IN), Amy Scott (Frankfort, IN), Julie Hill (Indianapolis, IN) and Leah Fenner (Lowell, IN). Along with the three veterans, the freshmen are expected to provide an immediate impact, especially Lindeman.
The strong pitching staff is supported by a powerful catching ensemble led by senior Sandi Downs (La Porte, IN), a three year starter for PNC who started 48 of the 53 games last season. Downs will split time this year at third base with newcomer and junior college transfer Erika Fitzgerald (Dunlap, IL), who will also split time as a catcher and infielder. An all-around athletic player, Fitzgerald will provide a new dimension to the Panther defense.
Shoring up the catcher position will be freshman Abbey Scowden (Lafayette, IN). Scowden, an infielder as well, will add needed depth to an already strong catching staff.
The Panthers return a tough defensive infield for the 2013 season. First team all-conference sophomore Sam Jones (Yorktown, IN) looks to repeat her award winning performance. Jones received First Team All-Conference and Freshman of the Year honors batting .423 and having a .964 fielding percentage.
Junior Erica Pauer (Hebron, IN) worked hard this off season improving her bat. In 2012, Pauer struggled at the plate but her strong .926 fielding at second base kept her on the field. Pauer hopes to have her best season offensively as-well-as defensively.
Junior Cassidy Hardesty (Plymouth, IN) looks to return to form at the shortstop position. After multiple injuries kept her off the field in 2012, Hardesty worked hard in the off season and is ready to take on this year's challenges.
Third base will be filled by a host of players including Downs and Fitzgerald when not catching. On occasion, freshman Hill will be asked to take the base when not pitching.
Sophomore Victoria Hurst (Edwardsburg, MI) will lead the young outfielders for the 2013 campaign. Hurst, a transfer student from Lake Michigan College is the oldest outfielder on the team.
Freshmen Marah Cover (Indianapolis, IN), Danielle Keller (Milwaukee, WI) and Ashley Starcevich (Lowell, IN) will bring speed to the outfield while providing unique offensive options when batting.
Freshman outfielder Courtney Mansfield (Hammond, IN) will be a dual role player for PNC this year. A strong, determined athlete with a great attitude, Mansfield has stepped up to not only help in the outfield but will be taking time to learn the catcher position as well.
Freshman outfielder Andy Spencer (Valparaiso, IN) rounds out the roster for PNC. She hopes to see playing time in the outfield and continues to improve.
Boardman has been demanding of his team this preseason, expecting nothing less than perfection. His coaching staff will help the team attain their goals, led by 11th year assistant Denny King. King, the senior member of the PNC Athletic Department, serves as the recruiting coordinator and first base coach for the Panthers.
2012 CCAC All Conference player Lindsay Gernenz joins the coaching staff for the 2013 campaign. Gernenz was a four year starter for the Panthers and team captain for three years. She will help the infielders hone their defensive skills while assisting with batting instruction.
Joining the coaching staff is Gary Warwick, a long-time figure of fastpitch softball in Northwest Indiana for many years. He will serve as the outfield coach and assist with hitting.
Rounding out the staff is Athletic Trainer Doug Cassell. Cassell begins his 10th year as the contracted athletic trainer through Indiana University Health La Porte Hospital for PNC.
The Panthers will open their season March 8th when they travel to Arizona over spring break to participate in the Tucson Invitational. PNC will open their home season March 19th when they host CCAC Conference rival Olivet Nazarene University. All home games will be played at Patriot Park in Michigan City, Indiana.