GREENVILLE, Ill. –First year head coach Tenequa Martin brings optimism and a winning attitude to the Greenville College softball program as the women prepare for their 2012 campaign.
The Panthers ended 2011 with an overall record of 14-23 and a SLIAC tournament birth. GC finished fourth in post-season conference play after a season of injuries and inconsistencies hindered the squad from a breakout year. However, the program made a monumental addition mid June with the hiring of Martin to serve as head softball coach and senior women's administrator. Martin succeeded former signal caller Brian Reinhard who served 10 years in the position.
“We are extremely excited about where we are at as a team,” comments Martin. “We are loaded with leadership, talent, and experience and our mindset and conditioning are sharp.”
Martin and GC will rely on the return of nine letterwinners from a year ago, the majority of its offensive production, and its entire pitching staff.
2011 All-American selection Mattie Fairchild will spearhead the Panther attack and fuel the GC squad at the plate. As only a freshman, Fairchild led the Lady Panthers in nearly every offensive category. Her batting average (.471), slugging pct. (.628), on base pct. (.533), runs (33), hits (57), RBI (26), doubles (11), triples (1), total bases (76), and games played (36) all rank as team leaders. Aside from her work at the plate, Fairchild served as an outstanding fielder at shortstop as she posted a fielding pct. of .918. The underclassman also ranked in the SLIAC top 10 in nearly every offensive category and garnered a handful of national honors for her season’s performance.
Middle infielder Angie Doherty headlined the Lady Panther notables in conference hardware, earning a second team all-SLIAC bid. Doherty batted .321 on the season with 25 RBI and a team leading three homers. Doherty also posted a .927 fielding percentage with only eight errors as a sophomore.
Both seniors Lindsey Schuberth (SLIAC Player of the Year in 2010) and freshman Fairchild were named to the SLIAC honorable mention team. Schuberth served as the GC ace for the third year in a row, notching a 3.57 ERA, while striking out 87 batters, and finishing with a record of 8-13. Apart from second-team honors, Schuberth was also named the representative to the SLIAC sportsmanship team.
Senior pitchers Schuberth and Angela Sheets bring seasons of SLIAC experience to the GC mound and have developed good rapport with their battery mate, junior Darci Sample. Sample gained valuable experience behind the plate in 2011 and is poised for a strong season. Sophomore standout Fairchild will continue to give Greenville depth in the circle, offering relief and stability. The Panthers' pitching staff is further bolstered by the addition of freshman transfer Jessica Laubecher, who finished her high school career early and helps complete one of the most talented and deepest rotations in the SLIAC.
Behind the Panther hurlers an already solid defensive squad has spent a considerable time improving their conditioning and situational tactics. Fairchild (.471, 26RBI) and junior Doherty (.321, 25RBI), the team's top two offensive threats last season, started nearly every game in the middle for Greenville in 2011 and again look to anchor the Black & Orange in the field.
On the corners, former SLIAC player of the year/senior Rachel Brewer and junior Ashley Sharp both return to their starting spots in 2012 to round out a sound infield. Sophomore’s Sarah Gerig and Hannah Lemons will work into the rotation and add flexibility and depth in the lineup.
In the outfield, the Panthers will look to four-year letterwinner and senior Brya Irvin to control the grass from the center field position. Irvin is joined by freshman utility specialist Amy Sheets and a speedy Reanna Weidner who round out a young but talented crew behind the base paths.
“These girls have a lot of potential and have been working extremely hard,” continues Martin. “Our staff is also very strong this year, and the women are responding well to the coaching.”
Assisting Martin in ‘12 is GC mainstay Ivan Estevez and newcomer Katie Hale. Estevez returns aboard for his eighth season of aid while first-year assistant Hale looks to implement a strong and successful playing background that she received from Southern Nazarene University. The two will offer experience and leadership on and off the field while bringing a winning attitude.
Aside from the strength and condition regiment that coach Martin has implemented, the mental game has also been a focus in the preseason. Two days a week, the squad breaks a mental sweat in the area of sports psychology as they review the book Mind Gym by Gary Mack and David Casstevens.
“Athletics and team dynamics is so much more than simply physical,” states coach Martin. “Mind Gym is a perfect outlet to increase our team’s understanding of everything it takes to build a wining attitude. More than the book, our emphasis for this year is John 19:30 and knowing that every goal that is set must be met with the attitude of “finishing.”
Another grueling schedule awaits the Panthers in 2012, as the team is set to play a 40 game slate against stiff competition in preparation for the SLIAC Tournament and further post-season action. GC softball will begin the journey on Thursday, March 1 as they travel to Missouri Baptist for a double-dip. First pitch is set for 1:00 pm and the capper will follow at 3:00 pm.