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Softball team seeks fresh start

Now that softball season is in full gear, Phoenix Sports would like to introduce you to Loyola softball’s new head coach, as well as its key players.

Coach Missy Beseres is taking over the head coaching position and replacing Yvette Healy, who left for the Big Ten’s Wisconsin. Beseres, a former standout pitcher at Penn State who joined the team four years ago as an assistant coach, is ready to take on the challenge of coaching the team.

“I really feel like coach Healy prepared me for my role as head coach, giving me extra work to do and advice. I learned a lot, and it made it easier to transition once I got this position,” Beseres said.

There are a number of returning players this year. Senior catcher Jenna Grim was named one of the captains after making the Second Team All-Horizon League for the second consecutive year. She batted .508 (32-for-63) and, after tying Kat Krause’s single-season record with 11 home runs, now ranks second all-time.

“The thing I am most excited about this season is entering conference play. We are pre-season ranked sixth and the conference is not going to be ready for the power and speed we have this year. We have worked very hard in the off-season to be stronger and faster then our opponents,” Grim said.

Junior infielder Lauren Arceneaux was also named captain after earning the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team accolade during her sophomore year. She tied for second on the team with five doubles and batted .302 in Loyola victories.

Sophomore outfielder Brooke Anderson was named the third and final captain after having one of the finest seasons as a rookie. She made the First Team All-Horizon League and Horizon League All-Newcomer Team with a batting average of .384, 35 runs and 58 hits.

The team returns only one pitcher, Seana Stillson, who tied for the team lead with a pair of shutouts and had a team best 3.28 ERA in Horizon League action. She had 17 strikeouts in 23 innings and made the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll.

Other returning players include senior outfielder Carly Benford, senior infielder Bridget Lally and junior second baseman Stevie Bradich.

This season, six new freshman have been added to the team including multiple MVPs, All-Area and All-State honorees, with batting averages ranging from .377 to.495. The six include pitchers Keali Engelkens and Brittany Gardner, outfielder Olivia Bell, infielders Lauren Moore and Lauren Zaworski and first baseman Emily Bentley.

Bentley had a grand slam hit in one of Loyola’s wins over Cleveland State with a score of 4-2, and Moore had a two-run home run hit. Zaworski had one RBI, which helped lead to the second victory against Cleveland State with a score of 7-4.

Beseres has high hopes for the team.

“I’m so excited to see all 17 players contributing to accomplish one common goal, which is to get in and win the Horizon League Tournament,” Beseres said.

Feeling confident and well prepared, she is ready to lead the team to victory over some of their new Big Ten regional rivals. When looking at the Loyola roster, one can’t help but notice it is full of Illinois players.

“What can I say? We’re lucky that Illinois is a hot bed for softball talent, and we don’t have to leave the state to find the best players,” Beseres said.

The team has already gotten their feet wet this year at the Best Western Marina Grand Invitational in Corpus Christi, Texas, Feb. 10-12. They emerged with two wins and three losses, winning the two games against Cleveland State, 7-4 and 4-2.

The Loyola women’s softball team will be playing the Rebel Games in Orlando, Fla. on March 6-11. They face off against Eastern Kentucky, Yale, Robert Morris, Florida A&M and Temple, among others.

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