- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 02 March 2016
- Written by CONNOR WHITE | SPORTS EDITOR
The University’s softball team opened the 2016 season by participating in the Lancer Lead-Off Tournament this past weekend.
O’ Bryant will be joining the Hawks after being a graduate assistant at Alabama in 2015, while Salsburg comes to West Long Branch after a nine-year career as head coach at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.
“I’m excited to draw on things that I used to do at Bowling Green and bring them into a fun, new environment,” said Salsburg, who’s MU team finished 1-3 in their opening weekend. “It’s been interesting to learn some new ways [of living] and figure out the Northeast area.”
Salsburg, who posted an overall record of 196-232-1 at BGSU, was named head coach of MU softball in September and will be replacing six-year head coach Louie Berndt. She was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2012 and will bring a power-hitting approach to MU, as she was the only BGSU coach to have her team reach 30-plus homers in consecutive seasons.
“I definitely preach power hitting,” Salsburg said. “But in this conference, our team will have to be more balanced. We won’t be able to rely on power alone.”
But 2016 Pre-Season All-MAAC Team honoree sophomore outfielder Chloe Howerth will be a major key to the blue and white’s success moving forward.
“Chloe has great bat control and does a great job of setting the table for her teammates to succeed as well,” Salsburg said. “She always wants to be the best player she can be.”
Another key returner for the Hawks will be junior pitcher Sydney Underhill, who posted a 4.72 ERA in a team-high 135.0 innings pitched for MU. In Underhill’s freshman season (2014), she was the only Division I pitcher to appear in every game her team competed in, pitching in 43 games and earning MAAC All-Rookie Team Honors.
“I couldn’t be more excited to see Sydney pitch during the season,” salsburg said. “She has really grown this year and has really improved on mixing pitches more.”
The Hawks ended the 2015 season with a 19-25 overall record, finishing 12-8 in conference play. MU made a run come tournament time, making it to the championship round where they lost twice to #2 Fairfield, 8-5 and 11-5. And although the blue and white had an impressive final stretch, they are projected to finish sixth in the MAAC for 2016.
“I don’t really know why they ranked us the way they did,” Salsburg said. “From my experience, maybe people think this team just caught fire down the stretch, but I think they just started playing to their potential.”
MU will bring in a modest freshman class for this season, consisting of only two members: outfielder Jasmine Higa and infielder Nicole Wieczorek. The Hawks will open up conference play on Saturday, Apr. 2 with a double-header against Rider.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics