ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford University softball team heads into the 2019 season with high expectations thanks to the combination of a bountiful crop of newcomers and an experienced group of returners. The new-look Regents should surprise teams this year as they have their sights set on making their way up the Northern Collegiate Athletic Conference standings.
The Regents return six players off last year's squad, including Shannon LeGath (Mount Pleasant, Wis.) who is the team's lone senior. LeGath is an extremely versatile player with a wealth of experience, playing in nearly every game over the last three years. LeGath gives the Regents flexibility in both the outfield and infield with her ability to play multiple positions. Junior Brittany Bihun (Schaumburg, Ill.) is coming off a solid sophomore campaign that saw her post a .293 batting average, 16 RBIs, 9 walks, 2 double and 2 triples despite playing in only 30 games last season. Bihun will also provide the Regents with some flexibility across the infield, seeing time behind the plate and at the corners. Gretchen Schrubbe (Elgin, Ill.) returns to the Regent lineup following an outstanding freshman season in which she led the team in nearly every offensive category. Schrubbe ended the year with a .417 batting average, a .667 slugging percentage, 21 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 50 hits, 9 doubles, 6 triples and 3 home runs out of the leadoff spot. Schrubbe will again be relied upon this season to produce at the top of the Regents' order. Rounding out the returners are a trio of sophomores in McCathran Andrew (Rockford, Ill.), Sammi Russell (Winnebago, Ill.) and Allison Kaiser (South Elgin, Ill.). Andrew will primarily see time in the outfield this season and hopes to provide the Regents with some added pop in the order after finishing last season second on the team in extra-base hits. Russell and Kaiser will both continue to see time in the circle this year for Rockford as well as contribute at the plate.
The Rockford softball team will have a lot of fresh faces this season as it brought in five transfers and three freshmen. Leading that group is junior Annaka Bartz (Rockton, Ill.), an NJCAA All-American from Rock Valley College. Bartz was a key contributor for the Golden Eagles over the last two seasons, helping lead them to a pair of national championships. Over her first two seasons, Bartz posted a .444 batting average, a .515 on-base percentage, an .823 slugging percentage, 34 doubles, 11 triples, and 15 home runs. Bartz will help solidify the top of the order for the Regents and anchor the infield up the middle. Junior's Emily Cox (Erie, Ill.), Destiny Darmon (Byron, Ill.) and Morgan Robb (Orangeville, Ill.) also join Rockford after winning two national titles with Bartz at Rock Valley College. Cox earned NJCAA All-American honors her freshman year and finished her time at RVC hitting .545 with 39 extra-base hits. Cox should hit in the middle of the lineup and be a key component in the Regent outfield. Darmon is a versatile player who provides range in the outfield and is solid at the plate. Over her two seasons at RVC, Darmon posted a .348 batting average and a .423 on-base percentage. Robb was named to the 2017 National Tournament Team and was also an all-region player for the Golden Eagles. She will see time both behind the plate and at the corner infield positions. Rounding out the transfers is junior Dylan King (Constantine, Mich.). King comes to Rockford after spending the last two seasons at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. King was named the team's Offensive MVP her sophomore year, selected First Team All-MCCAA, all-region and First Team All-Western Conference. While at KVCC, King recorded a .422 batting average, 17 home runs and 101 RBIs. King will also see time at the corners and behind the plate for the Regents.
RU also welcomes three freshmen to this year's squad. Rylee Klema (Mendota, Ill.) headlines the group after an outstanding senior season where she was named the 2018 Player of the Year by the News Tribune, first team all-conference and all-area. Klema will look to make an immediate impact for the Regents both in the circle and at the plate. Rounding out the freshmen class are Grace Vandiver (Bridgeport, Ill.) and Karyssa Myhres (South Beloit, Ill.). Vandiver and Myhres each look to help contribute as they battle for playing time.
"This group has worked extremely hard and has its sights set on competing for a berth in the NACC Tournament this season," stated Head Coach Josh Keener. "We were very young last year and have been fortunate to infuse our roster with quality, experienced players. The growth of our returners, coupled with the attributes of our newcomers, has us excited to see what Regent Softball can do in 2019."
The Rockford University softball team kicks off its season with a pair of games in Rochester, Minnesota on Saturday, March 2. The Regents open their season at 4 PM against Ripon before taking on UW-Eau Clare at 8 PM.