2018 Season Outlook

A year ago Coach Jackie Manrique took over the softball program and began the process of shaping it in the direction she envisioned. As she moves into her second season, she already has seen success and progress toward making the program a conference contender.  She sees great potential in this year’s squad and is excited to see what the 2018 season will bring.

“We will continue to move forward and build on what we established last season,” said Manrique. “We have the potential to do well, but we will have to see how we develop.  Our goal is to be well over .500 and in the top five of the CCAC. In order to do that we will have to pull out the necessary wins and also split with some of the top teams.”

The Trolls finished last season with an 18-22 overall record, which was eight more wins than the year before. They also were 9-15 in the conference and at eighth place in the standings they advanced to the CCAC Tournament. Striving toward continued improvement, the team has increased the roster size by seven players for a total of 18 on the squad. On that roster are seven returners and eleven new players. Among the newcomers are nine freshmen, one sophomore, and one junior transfer.

“I like the personnel we have on the team,” commented Manrique. “We have a large majority of our line-up returning and have returners in almost every position. We also have good leadership that will help develop the younger players.”   

Manrique admits that having a large number of newcomers does bring some questions. “While I am excited and confident in our ability and potential, having such a large number of newcomers presents unknowns as you do not know how they will develop and contribute.”

The Trolls lost only a few players from the team last year and will have returners in nearly every position. With the added new players, the team will be able to fill the needed positions and also have more depth. The team also returns a solid batting line-up and has gained good new batters. Offensively they should be stronger than their .294 batting average from a season ago. The team has also added depth to the pitching staff which will give them more options. However, their overall effectiveness on the mound will depend on how the freshmen develop and adjust to the collegiate game.

There are number of key returners that the team will rely on. Three of those players will be central to the defense of the infield as well as a crucial part of the batting order. Junior Jamie Budreau (Kendallville, Indiana) returns to a starting position at third base. A year ago she earned CCAC All-Conference Second Team and NCCAA All-Region honors while leading the team and the conference with a .388 batting average. She posted 47 hits and led the team with 25 RBI. Her arm and her bat are important to the success of the team. Also on the left side of the infield is junior Chloe McRobbie (Kendalville, Indiana), the starting short stop. She posted a .264 batting average and had 24 hits and 18 RBI. In addition to her talent on the field she provides consistency and hard work. Senior Katelyn Sena (McHenry, Illinois) brings the experience behind the plate as the starting catcher.  She provides leadership and will bring stability to the young pitchers. In addition her ability to get on base will be important in the line-up.

The rest of the infield positions can be filled a number of players. Sophomore Kirsti Kooiker (Boyden, Iowa) gained some experience at first base last year, but will be limited this season due to injury. Freshman Emma Zenkel (Naperville, Illinois) and sophomore Claudia Pareja (Miami, Florida), a transfer in her first year at Trinity, give depth to the first base position. Freshman Jessica Cachu (Pomona, California) is a player to watch as she develops into the collegiate game. She has good defensive skills with the potential to fill in at second base and can be helpful in the line-up. Giving the second base position depth is freshman Leah Sweetman (Fremont, Michigan) and junior transfer Jessica Boyd (Braidwood, Illlinois), who played for two seasons at Prairie State College. Freshman Brandi Machado (Chino, California) backs up the catching position. She may also find the line-up as a designator hitter. Also in the mix to occupy an infield position will be the members of the pitching staff.

Leading the pitching staff is junior Dara Megyesi (Washington, Illinois), the team’s only returning pitcher. Last year she had a break-out season and earned All-Conference Second Team honors as well as was named NCCAA All-Region and All-American Third Team. She ranked in the top 10 in the CCAC with a 2.63 ERA. She logged a total of 133 innings and recorded 98 strike-outs for a 5.16 strike-out per game average. In addition she has the ability to hit and can factor into the line-up.  The team will rely heavily on Megyesi, but will also look for a couple of freshman to make an impact and pick up needed innings. Emili Bell (Clinton, Wisconsin) will be a starter on the mound. When not pitching she can also help out at first base. Audrey Ricker (Alexandria, Indiana) will also log some innings at the rubber. She could be a starter at second base and will be helpful to the team with her bat.

The outfield has experience and will be solid. Junior Melinda Russell (Bourbonnais, Illinois) returns to right field. She also has the ability to get hits and led the team a year ago with nine doubles. In center field is senior Mercedes Munoz (Santa Ana, California), who started in center or left field a year ago. Freshmen Jessica Wasik (Crestwood, Illinois), who is a slapper and can provide a base runner, and Makayla Otto (New Lenox, Illinois) are strong contenders to fill the left field position. Another addition player to the outfield is freshman Barb McAndrews (Wheaton, Illinois), who in the fall semester competes on Trinity’s cross country team.

The Trolls will open their 2018 season on February 20 with two games played in a dome in Pekin, Illinois. In the first week of March they will play in ten games in the PFX Spring Games in Florida. In addition to those games the team will play in four other non-conference double-headers throughout the season. Those opponents include Silver Lake College, who they play in their home opener on March 23, Elmhurst College, Bethel College, and Indiana Tech. The Trolls begin their conference schedule, which consists of 11 double-headers, on March 21 at Olivet Nazarene University.  The CCAC regular season schedule ends at the end of April with the CCAC Tournament starting on May 3.