2017 Season Outlook
Trinity’s softball program begins a new era as Jackie Manrique takes over as head coach of the program. When given the reins this summer, Manrique, who served as an assistant coach at North Park University for three seasons, hit the ground running in recruiting a full roster and preparing for the upcoming season. She is putting all the pieces together to make the 2017 season a successful one.
“As I look forward to this upcoming season, I am confident in the abilities of our current roster to show positive progression in the win-loss column from previous years,” said Manrique. “This program has great potential moving forward. Each athlete brings a variety of assets that will contribute to our daily success.”
The Trolls, who finished last year with a 10-28 record, will call on each of those players’ assets day in and day out as the roster holds only 11 players. Seven of those athletes are returning from last season, three are transfer students, and one is an incoming freshman. The team will rely on those returners, all of which have starting experience, to provide solid and consistent play. The four newcomers will be asked to make an immediate impact.
Coach Manrique is encouraged by the strong work ethic and camaraderie that team has already shown. “Our preseason practices have shown how well our team can work together despite having a small roster. Each athlete has pushed herself to be there for one another.”
“At our first meeting the team decided on a hashtag of #III for the year, which stands for intensity, integrity, and inspired,” said Manrique. “They have already consistently kept each other inspired and have shown great intensity and integrity day in and day out. It is with that attitude that I am confident we will find success.”
While the team has a limited roster in terms of numbers, they are not short on talent or experience. They return starters in almost every position and have players that have the versatility to cover more than one spot on the field. They will make some adjustments to cover the positions left by the graduating seniors and to find the right mix on the field. The pitching and catching positions will be solid, but not deep and the team will have to rely on limited personnel to get the job done in those areas. The team will also have to ask a few others to step up at the plate to create a strong batting order.
The Trolls will rely heavily on a few of the returners who have the most experience. Forming an essential connection will be junior Jenna Steinkamp (Camarillo, California) on the mound and junior Katelyn Sena (McHenry, Illinois) as catcher. Steinkamp, who logged the most innings with 106.1 a year ago, will once again bear the bulk of the pitching duties. In the 2016 season she led the team and ranked seventh in the conference with a .230 ERA, had a 6-8 record, hurled three shut-outs, and recorded 40 strike-outs. Sena has been the line-up for the past two seasons as a starting outfielder, where she posted a fielding percentage of 100 percent in center field last year. She will make the transition to catcher and has already shown leadership and an exceptionally developed skill set behind the plate. When not catching, she will be on the field at short-stop. Sena is also a major asset to the line-up as she led the team in RBIs with 16 and had six doubles, a triple, and three home runs last year.
Another key returner is sophomore Jamie Budreau (Kendallville, Indiana), who started at third base last year and again will continue to contribute from the corner position. She led the team with 96 assists last season and also provided a strong bat in the line-up, where she had 31 hits, 19 runs, and 15 RBIs.
Emily Phillips (Tampico, Illinois), the lone senior, who can play both the infield and outfield. A year ago she was a starter in right field, but also has experience at second base. She is a dominant force on the left side of the plate and the team’s leading returning batter with a .321 batting average a year ago. While she provides solid play offensively and defensively, her strongest asset is her invaluable leadership.
A pair of sophomores gained experience as starters in their rookie seasons. Melinda Russell (Bourbonnais, Illinois) returns to the outfield, where she played in left last season. She has been a great support system for her teammates each day during the preseason. Chloe McRobbie (Kendallville, Indiana) started at short stop or first base last year with a .949 fielding percentage, recording 173 putouts and 32 assists. She provides consistency and will be a fixture in the line-up at those positions again this year.
Joining Steinkamp in the pitching duties is sophomore Dara Megyesi (Washington, Illinois), who pitched 77.2 innings last year. She had a 4.87 ERA as a rookie and recorded 33 strike-outs. Megyesi can also provide assistance at second base.
The new faces on the team will step into prominent roles. Junior Alisson Ramirez (Winnetka, California) comes from Moorpark College where she played two seasons. Her speed in the outfield and on the base path will be a great addition to the team. She also provides grit and determination every time she steps on the field. Junior Katie Shoulta (Palm Harbor, Florida) brings two years of experience from Pasco-Hernando State College. She adds depth to the first base and catcher positions. She continues to gain strength in the weight room and make strides forward which will factor into the team’s success. Mercedes Munoz (Santa Ana, California) is a junior transfer from Santa Ana College. Along with collegiate experience she brings a strong arm to and leadership to the outfield and a strong work mentality.
The team’s only freshman is Kirsti Kooiker (Boyden, Iowa). She provides depth at first base and will grow this season as she develops as a collegiate player.
The Trolls open their season in late February in a dome tournament in Peking, Illinois. In early March they will challenge their skill with eight games during spring break. They start their always tough conference schedule on March 22 at St. Ambrose University and have their first home contest on March 25 against CCAC opponent Judson University. Overall, the Trolls will play in 12 conference double-headers and will use those games to secure a spot in the CCAC Tournament that takes place on May 5-7. In addition to the conference games the team will also play non-conference double-headers against Elmhurst College and Bethel College.