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Blunders costly as softball team strikes out during season debut

Sara Shields

By Stephanie Metzger

Feb. 14, 2013

The Cleveland State University softball team led off with a handful of losses in North Carolina over the weekend, but plenty of opportunities remain for a formidable season.

The team started with a pair of losses to Towson University and East Carolina University on Friday, Feb. 8, then fell to Towson again and Ohio University on Saturday. The team’s closest game occurred on Sunday, as it lost to Rider University 3-2.

Head coach Angie Nicholson attributed the team’s errors to its inexperience.
“We are making too many young mistakes, but they’re things that can be fixed,” Nicholson said. “We started off both games attacking at the plate and putting ourselves on top. We just have to do a better job staying consistent and holding onto the leads we create.”

Last year, the Vikings finished with a 17-39 overall record and went 9-15 in Horizon League play. Plagued by a lackluster line-up, the team struggled to produce offensively, as just two players hit above the .300 mark.

Despite its hardships, the team still produced three players who received Horizon League honors. Dara Toman was named to the Horizon All-League First Team, while Sara Shields was named to the All-League Second Team and Nena Doran was named to the All-Newcomer Team.

Toman, who led the team in batting average (.405) and home runs (19) last year, is now a senior with high expectations for another big year.

Shields has also returned for another season after hitting .321 with seven home runs while posting a 3.22 ERA last year.

Only two seniors — Toman and Caila Ferro — remain with the team this year, part of a total of six starters returning. Eight freshmen join the squad in addition to one newcomer, Janessa Rivera-Keahi, a junior from Hawaii. The team lost four starters and three pitchers.

Cleveland State was selected sixth out of eight in the Horizon League preseason poll. They were selected above the Wright State University Raiders and the University of Detroit Titans. Leading the league is the Loyola University Ramblers squad, which received six votes for first place in the poll count.

The team starts Horizon League play next month when the Vikings host Detroit on March 23.