2014 Missouri State Softball Season Preview: Pitchers and Catchers
Feb. 3, 2014
As the Missouri State softball team prepares for Saturday's regular season opener at Georgia Tech, we take a look at this year's team in a four-part season preview. Today's focus, pitchers and catchers.
Missouri State enters the 2014 season with four pitchers on the staff. Junior Chelsea Jones was a workhorse for the Bears in 2013 logging 231.2 innings, tied for the sixth-most innings pitched in a season in school history. Jones won 15 games, tied for fourth among league hurlers, and improved her earned run average and opponent's batting average while continuing to strike out more hitters than walks given up. She topped the MVC in ground ball outs, inducing 338, all while fielding her position perfectly. Jones enters this season as the staff leader.
Sophomore Jessie Van Es was limited to 16 appearances last season, but logged at least one strikeout in 13 of those games. She began the MVC slate 3-0 and went 4-2 over her final six decisions of the year. The staff leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio, Van Es will be looked upon to log more innings after a season of experience in 2013.
Freshman Erin Struemph has been impressive since arriving on campus. She was a four-year standout in the circle in high school and led her Saint Elizabeth High squad to a state title in 2011 at Killian Stadium. Struemph will step right in and be relied upon to provide quality innings in her first season.
Senior Rachel Brisker has been hampered by injuries and will look to return to the circle in her final season with the Bears. Last year, Brisker earned a win and picked up the save in a doubleheader sweep at Indiana State.
"Chelsea certainly has the experience to step it up and be dominating this year," said Hesse. "She will have a lot of help from Van Es, who threw some good innings as a freshman. I am very excited about Erin Struemph from what she has shown us and the more experience she gets, the more dominating she's going to become."
Senior Stacia Boeckstiegel is a vocal leader at catcher and has the experience to lead the pitching staff. She had a great season at the plate in 2013, tying the school record being hit-by-pitch 10 times, while hitting four home runs. She batted .320 on the year, a 95-point increase over her first season at MSU. Boeckstiegel was an all-around offensive contributor, even picking up a stolen base. She came through in the clutch as well, hitting a home run in the MVC Tournament to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.
Sophomore Braxton Coil was a solid back up and had a stellar season at the plate in her first year with the Bears. She hit .360 and had a .448 on-base percentage, both team highs. Coil dropped seven sacrifice bunts and topped the squad with a .684 success rate at advancing runners. Coil hit a home run in her only pinch hit at-bat, a two-run shot at Drake on March 30.
"This is Boeckstiegel's third year with us and she has gotten better and better each year behind the plate," continued Hesse. "She is a strong, vocal leader who had a great year at the plate. Braxton (Coil) hit extremely well for us last year. Catching is one position where you want more than one starter and I see both of them playing a lot of innings behind the plate."