Bearcats Anticipate Exciting 2010 Softball Season

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

SALEM, ORE. -- Head Softball Coach Damian Williams and the Willamette University Bearcats have spent a busy off-season preparing for the opening of the 2010 schedule. The Bearcats will have a young roster but return several key players from the 2009 team that went 29-6 overall and 22-6 in the Northwest Conference.

“We will be young, but exciting to watch,” Williams said.

Despite being young, the Bearcats are well respected around the conference. Willamette has been predicted to take second place in Northwest Conference softball this season, according to the league's head coaches in the NWC Preseason Poll. The Bearcats were ranked in the poll behind only defending NWC champion Linfield College.

The Bearcats return nine players from the 2009 team that finished second in the NWC. Willamette team captain Nicole Wallace (C, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) is the lone senior on the team. On the field, WU will be led by sophomores Alex Watilo (P, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) and Mica Romero (SS, Woodland, CA/Woodland Christian).

Watilo finished her freshman season with a 13-3 record on the mound and a 1.20 ERA. She threw fourteen complete games with seven shutouts. She was chosen First Team All-NWC.

Romero also earned First Team All-NWC honors following the 2009 season. She hit .378 and provided the Bearcats will solid defense at the shortstop position. Romero led the team in RBIs with 30 and was second on the team in triples (4) during the 2009 season.

Sophomore Sierra Lessel (OF, Eugene, OR/Winston Chruchill HS) made a huge impact for WU during her freshman season. The vocal outfielder led the team in batting average, hitting .418. Lessel also led the team in runs scored (28) and slugging percentage (.573).

Returning at third for the Bearcats is sophomore Suzannah Von Trapp (Salem, OR/South Salem HS). Von Trapp hit a team high five homeruns as a freshman. Von Trapp scored 27 runs in 2009, good for second on the team.

Susie Krewer (2B, So., Sacramento, CA/Mire Loma HS) and Talissa Huntsman (UTIL, So., Richland, WA/Richland HS) both made solid contributions during the 2009 season. Krewer led the team in sacrifice bunts (7) and hit seven doubles, good for third on the team. Huntsman was hit by six pitches last season, a team high.

The young Bearcats will look for leadership from Wallace and WU's only junior Bri Compton (P, Kalispell, MT/Wenatchee CC). Wallace and Compton are the only upperclassmen on a team that boasts nine freshmen and nine sophomores.

Willamette opens the season at the Northwest Cup at Hood View Park in Happy Valley, Ore. The Bearcats will face Concordia University, Northwest Christian College, College of Idaho and British Columbia before opening conference play at the University of Puget Sound on March 6, 2010. WU's conference schedule includes 28 games against seven different opponents.

Team captain Nicole Wallace is WU's only senior this season. She played in all 35 games with 34 starts in 2009.

Team captain Nicole Wallace is WU's only senior this season. She played in all 35 games with 34 starts in 2009.

Sierra Lessel earned a .418 batting average as a freshman last spring.

Sierra Lessel earned a .418 batting average as a freshman last spring.