Position Players to Follow

Katie Martin
Grand Valley State
Jr. | DP | 5-10

Martin was a first-team All-American as sophomore after helping GVSU lead the nation batting average (.366), slugging percentage (.579) and home runs (76). The big-swinging right-hander hit .468 (9th nationally), 18 doubles (7th), 20 home runs (2nd) and 65 RBI (4th) while slugging .898 (9th) as a sophomore while earning Daktronics National Player-of-the-Year honors. Martin also set the school record with 87 hits and 167 total bases, and her 20 homers were the second-highest total in league history.

Grace Collins
Barry
Sr. | OF | 5-3

Key Notes:
• First-team All-American in 2011
• Hit a conference-high .433 (30th nationally) behind 65 hits in 150 at-bats
• Added 42 runs and stole 23 bases in 26 attempts
• Posted a school-record 19-game hitting streak as a junior
 

April Jowers
Armstrong Atlantic
Sr. | 2B | 5-5

Key Notes:
• Concensus first-team All-American as a junior
• Connected for school-record .497 batting average to rank third nationally
• Finished in top 35 nationally in on-base percentage (.512, 31st) and stolen bases (28, 33rd)
• Hit safely in 40 of 45 games

Kimberly LeComte
West Texas A&M 
Sr. | OF | 5-10

Key Notes:
• Two-time first-team All-American
• Helped West Texas A&M to 50 wins in 2011 behind  .383 average with 14 home runs, 60 runs and 67 RBI
• Recorded seven triples to rank seventh nationally
• Also swiped 29 bases on 33 attempts

Katelyn Lovato
Adams State
Jr. | OF | 5-9

Key Notes:
• Named first-team All-American in 2011
• Had school-record 100 hits while batting .488 (4th nationally) with nine triples (1st), 44 stolen bases (3rd) and 61 runs scored (1.11 per game, 18th)
• Showed a strong arm, adding 11 assists from outfield

Bailey Vrazel
Texas Woman's
So. | SS | 5-5

Key Notes:
• 2011 first-team All-American and NFCA Golden Shoe Award winner
• Finished first among across all NCAA divisions with 74 steals on 77 attempts
• Also hit .423 (45th nationally) with 80 hits, 43 runs and four triples  
 

Pitchers to Watch

Camille Gaito
UC San Diego
Sr. | RHP | 5-4

Gaito finished the year ranked second nationally with 35 victories, but the most important came in Salem, Va., as she led the Tritons to four consecutive victories and the national title. Gaito has UCSD back on top of the polls in the preseason and will look to carry the squad again after posting a 0.75 ERA (fourth nationally) with school records for innings pitched (262.1), strikeouts (208), complete games (32) and saves (4). Her four losses were the third-fewest among pitchers with 20-plus wins, helping her earn second-team All-America honors.

Hope Bitzer
Rollins
Sr. | RHP | 5-7

Key Notes:
• First-team
All-American in 2011
• Led the nation with an 0.61 ERA in 125.1 innings, allowing just 11 earned runs
• Posted an 18-1 record in 20 appearances, including 12 shutouts
• Finished 20th in strikeouts per 7.0 innings (9.0)

Jessica Coan
North Georgia
Sr. | RHP | 5-8

Key Notes:
• National pitcher of the year and NFCA first-team All-American in 2011
• Finished with 384 strikeouts to rank second nationally
• Added a 1.09 ERA in 218.1 innings across 40 appearances, including two in the DII Championship 
• Led team with 27 wins
 

Deanna Henriott 
Tampa
Sr. | RHP | 5-10

Key Notes:
• Posted 25 victories to finish 17th in country in 198.1 innings
• ERA of 0.71 placed third nationally while adding 281 strikeouts (12th)
• Her 101 hits allowed were fourth fewest nationally
• Added one perfect game and one no-hitter 

Kayla Jackson
Ark.-Monticello
Sr. | RHP | 5-9

Key Notes:
• Third-team All-American as a junior
• Posted a 1.13 ERA to rank 13th while 12 shutouts were two off national lead
• Tied for seventh in the country with 29 victories in 39 appearances
• Allowed just 27 walks in 248.1 innings, 10th nationally

Brianna Smith
Barry
Sr. | LHP/UT | 5-7

Key Notes:
• Earned second-team All-America honors as a utility player/pitcher
• Went 171.2 innings allowing a 1.43 ERA to rank in top 30 nationally
• Also had 145 strikeouts
• Tossed one no-hitter
• Also hit .333 with 16 RBIs in 32 games

 

Keep an Eye on These Programs

UC San Diego
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats): Camille Gaito (Sr., RHP, 35-4, 0.75 ERA, 262.1 IP, 208 K), Kris Lesovsky (Sr., CF, .305, 46 R, 23 RBI, 20 SB), Jennifer Manuel (So., DP/RHP, .333, 11 RBI)

Noting the Tritons:  UCSD is competing during the regular season as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time, earning the nod after sweeping its way to the national title in Salem, Va., last spring. The Tritons return five starters from last year's squad that won a school-record 45 games, led by senior Camille Gaito. The crafty right-hander ranked among the national leaders in wins (35) and ERA (0.75) last year, helping UCSD rank seventh nationally as a staff with a 1.44 ERA. Behind Gaito, the defense ranked 19th with a .970 fielding percentage. Offensively, the Tritons will benifit from the steady leadership of centerfielder Kris Lesovsky, a two-time All-American who was granted a fifth year of eligibility in the fall. She is the program's career leader in batting average (.387), walks (113) and doubles (51) after starting 163 consecutive games.

North Georgia
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats):
Jessica Coan (Sr., RHP, 27-5, 1.09 ERA, 334 K), Hilary Cox (Sr., C/3B, .338, 14 HR, 48 RBI), Pilar Harden (Sr., CF, .303, 11 HR, 45 RBI) 

Noting the Saints: After finishing 2011 with the second-most wins in the country (53), North Georgia opens this spring ranked No. 3, the third consecutive year it opened in the top three. The only team to reach the national championship each of the last three seasons, the Saints will ride the arm of 2011 National Pitcher of the Year Jessica Coan, who finished her junior campaign 27 wins behind 25 complete games and a 1.09 ERA. Backing her up at the plate, the Saints' offense returns its two top power hitters as seniors Hilary Cox and Pilar Haden form a potent punch, launching 25 home runs and combining for 93 RBI last spring.   

Grand Valley State
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats): Katie Martin (Jr., DP, .468, 20 HR, 65 RBI), Miranda Cleary (So., 3B, .351, 19 HR, 52 RBI), Andrea Nicholson (Sr., RHP, 20-8, 2.81 ERA, 115 K)

Noting the Lakers: The powerful GVSU lineup led the nation in batting average (.366), slugging percentage (.579) and home runs (76) a year ago and returns the majority of its top hitters. Katie Martin and Miranda Cleary finished Nos. 2-3 in the country in home runs with 20 and 19, respectively, while helping the Lakers to a school-record 76 roundtrippers. The power surge helped GVSU to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 and they look to return in 2012 as their top pitcher, senior Andrea Nicholson, continues to improve after posting a 20-win campaign a year ago.

Other Teams to Watch: Alabama-Huntsville, Barry, Rollins, West Texas A&M, Valdosta State, Indiana (Pa.).

Contests to Look for in 2012

No. 1 UC San Diego -- Feb. 10-11: vs. No. 15 Cal St. Chico (two DH) March 2-3: at Cal St. San Bernardino (two DH) March 31: vs. No. 17 Hawaii-Pacific April 6-7: at Sonoma St. (two DH)

No. 2 Alabama-Huntsville -- Feb. 19: vs. No. 3 North Georgia March 2: at No. 11 Rollins (DH) March 10-11: vs. No. 3 North Georgia March 25: vs. No. 6 Valdosta St. (DH) April 7: at No. 6 Valdosta St. (DH)

No. 3 North Georgia -- Feb. 17: vs. No. 11 Rollins Feb. 19: vs. No. 2 Ala.-Huntsville March 3: vs. No. 9 Lenoir-Rhyne March 10-11: vs. No. 2 Ala.-Huntsville March 15: at No. 21 Armstrong Atlantic (DH)

No. 4 Saginaw Valley  -- March 4: vs. No. 13 Minnesota State-Mankato March 5: vs. No. 10 C.W. Post March 9: vs. No. 7 Indiana (Pa.) April 6-7: at No. 18 Grand Valley State (two DH)

No. 5 West Texas A&M -- Feb. 17: vs. No. 24 Colorado School of Mines Feb. 24-25: vs. No. 3 North Georgia March 9-10: vs. No. 20 Midwestern St. March 23-24: vs. No. 16 Angelo St.

No. 11 Arkansas-Monticello -- Feb. 12: vs. No. 23 Missouri Western St. Feb. 17: vs. No. 17 Angelo St. Feb. 19: vs. No. 23 Missouri Western St. Feb. 26: vs. No. 23 Missouri Western St.   

No. 18 Grand Valley State -- March 9: vs. Kutztown, vs. Dowling April 6-7: No. 4 Saginaw Valley State (two DH)

All photos courtesy of respective school athletic departments.