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Griz softball 2016 season review

Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 12:21 pm
by alabamagrizzly
Year two is in the books and all in all, it was a highly successful year. Considering a team that went 16-34 in year one without winning a single road game, finished this year 29-27 including 10-11 on the road. They were one win away from hosting the conference tournament and put three players on this years all-conference 1st team, three more on the second team, and another with honorable mention. That's seven of the nine positions receiving conference honors. AND everyone of those players will be back next year. Not to mention Pinkerton winning coach of the year. I think you can say our program is on the rise.

As a team, the improvements are amazing. The +13 win difference is a huge increase with the team's overall winning percentage rising from 34% to 52%. That's with a tuffer schedule also. Our conference record increased from 8-13 to 14-7, a nearly 30 point increase in winning percentage to 67%. The non con schedule featured two top 25 teams, four national tourney teams not counting Weber, and four more teams ranked in the top 100. Now we didn't have a great record against those opponents going 3-11 against the teams in the top 100, but it did strengthen our team against more comparable competition. Of the nine teams we played ranked below us at #184, we were 18-3 against them. Where we struggled and need to do better is against the eight teams between us and the #100 ranking. Including Nevada at #101 who we were 1-2 against, we finished 6-14. That includes a 2-7 mark against conference foes Ida St and Sac St. With a couple of the new additions for next year and more maturing and developing of our current players, this should be attainable.

Offensively as a team, we made giant leaps. Setting new records left and right for team and individual statistics, we've raised the bar a lot. As a team we increased in every major statistic. Batting average(.280 to.326), hits(377 to 521), runs(223 to 322), home runs(28 to 32), RBI's(205 to 293), slugging percentage(.406 to .444), on base percentage(.356 to .401), stolen bases(35 to 47), walks(135 to 172), and strike outs(235 down to 185) all dramatically increased or decreased for the better this year. Pitching on the other hand wasn't quite as positive. The team ERA increased from 4.75 to 5.26(good thing we averaged 5.75 runs a game), walks from 139 to 183, hits from 409 to 504, home runs from 44 to 55, and opponents batting average from .305 to .327. On the bright side, this is a very young pitching staff with two Fr getting the bulk of the innings followed by a So transfer and another Fr. Wins and strike outs(194 to 210) did improve along with a big spike in innings pitched(319.2 to 365.2). Another year under theses girls belts and this could be a great staff. The three Fr(Stephenson, Stensby, and Driscoll) all showed flashes of great stuff during the year and at other times looked like Fr. With another great pitcher in next years Fr class, this staff might work its way to the best in the con.

Nearly each position improved, some pretty dramatically. Here's a breakdown on each position/players improvement.
1B Ashlyn Lyons-stayed steady from last year as a .300 hitter. Like most everyone, she had a slight improvement in RBI's. Her slugging and fielding percentage did drop some but not significantly.
2B Gabby Martenez-her batting average and on base percentage slipped slightly but she cut her strike outs from 21 to 7 despite more at bats and her fielding percentage jumped from .960 to .989 while committing only two errors.
3B Bethany Olea-arguably the most improved on the team offensively. Batting average up over a 100 points to a team leading and 3rd in the con .408. Slugging up over 150 points to .550. Walks more then doubled to 35, good for second in the con. Stolen bases also jumped from one to six. Fielding percentage was the only thing to drop which lowered to a still respectable .937 while committing 8 errors at third base.
SS Delene Colburn-offensively her numbers did drop some from her amazing Fr year. The biggest decline was her slugging percentage which fell from a league leading .727 to .607 which was good for sixth in the con still. This was due to her decline in doubles from 21 to 8 but she wasn't the only one to show a decline in doubles which I think was a direct result of having far more base runners in front of her this year then last. Consequently her RBI's skyrocketed from 38 to 63, good for 2nd in the con. Her biggest improvement, and most important though was her fielding. Her percentage jumped almost 50 points to .953 while committing half as many errors as the 18 she committed last year, which was the 3rd highest total in the con.
LF Mercedes Bourgeau/Alex Wardlow-Bourgeau was replaced by Wardlow during the season due to Bourgeau's decline. Her batting average had dropped from .245 last year to .171. Wardlow only batted .217 on the year so there's still a lot of improvement to be made for next year and this is where we may see a Fr step into the starting lineup.
CF McKenna McGill-McGill also made a big jump upping her batting average from .311 to .374. She also solidified herself as the best defensive CF in the con not committing a single error in 111 put out attempts, not to mention any ground ball attempts she fielded.
RF Sydney Stites/Madeline Merritt-Stites replaced Merritt in RF after Lyons got healthy enough to take first base back over. Stites became a massive upgrade not only winning Fr of the year but also 1st team honors. She had a 170 point increase to Merritts batting average from .212 to .383 and tied in the team lead in homers with 12 and added 47 RBI's where Merritt didn't record any last year. She also played a better RF upping the feilding percentage from .909 to .965. She needs to work on her plate discipline though with a 3rd in the conference 34 strike outs.
C Lexie Brenneis-Brenneis stayed a steady .400 hitter but lost some with her homers dropping from 11 to 5. She did cut her strike outs in half from 20 to 9 and she stepped up her defensive play upping her caught runners stealing percentage from 6% to 18% ranking her 2nd in the con.
DP Madison Saacke-Challenging Olea as the most improved offensive player while playing mostly in the designated player slot, Saacke upped her batting average over 120 points from .229 to .355 after almost doubling her at bats from last year. She also cut her strike outs nearly in half from 14 to 8.

We had five newcomers that all played big parts throughout the year. Some were major contributors and some were role players but all made a mark.
Sydney Stites RF/1B-Pinkerton knew Stites was gonna play as soon as she verbaled. In fall ball he tried to get her in a lot of playing time and by spring she was starting at 1B waiting for Lyons to get healthy. Once Lyons returned, Stites replaced Merrit in RF and never looked back. Not only did she give Montana back to back Fr of the years, she earned 1st team conference honors. She finished 1st in the con in runs, 2nd in home runs, slugging percentage, doubles, and hits, 5th in RBI's, and 8th in batting average. I'd say she's locked up RF for her career but it's possible she'll be Olea's replacement at 3B after she graduates next year. Ya, she's that good.
Sara Stevenson P-Stephenson was one of two big pitching recruits. As a Fr, she definitely didn't disappoint. Finishing the season at 14-6 with a team low 4.56 era and earning 2nd team all conference honors. She did have some ups and downs though. After starting 20 games and throwing 136.2 innings, she finished 3rd in the league in wins, 5th in strike outs, 7th in innings pitched, and 10th in era and opponent batting average. Her one weak spot is her opponent slugging percentage. Batters slugged a .515 average against her. Only being a Fr though, she will become much better.
Maddy Stensby P-Stensby was the other big Fr pitching recruit and like Stephenson, showed a lot of signs of greatness but also showed signs of being a true Fr and needing of maturing as a player. She threw two no hitters on the year and led the team in strike outs per inning but she finished 4-9 and almost led the team in walks per inning as well. She did finish 8th in the con in innings pitched and 6th in strike outs. Being a big strong lefty, she can improve a lot and give Montana a 1-2 punch that many teams won't have
Colleen Driscoll P-Driscoll was the third Fr pitcher in last years recruiting class and was a late edition. Sparsely used throughout the year, she seen the bulk of her innings in the conference tourney throwing 9.2 of her 38.2 innings in the final weekend. Showing great control leading the team in walks per inning by a sizable margin, working on her era and opponent batting average will help her go along way here.
Haley Young P-Young was a So transfer from the SWAC and though she struggled more then the three Fr, she did pitch some valuable innings and finished 5-2 on the year. Bringing down her 6.72 era, .393 opponents batting average, and team high 0.6 walks per inning will really help her next year.

The ladies played in a couple big games this year, specifically #9 Washington who handled us pretty well winning 12-2 in 5 innings in Seattle. We we're never really in the game and UW proved to be a dominant team earning the #11 seed in the national tourney and bowing out to #3 seed Alabama in the final sixteen losing both games by a combined score 7-3. When we played Arizona St they were ranked #17 at the time but ended up finishing the year ranked #40. The Griz held their own against the PAC 12 powerhouse going into the sixth down 5-2 and out hitting the Sun Devils 9-8. That was where ASU put it away and proved to be too much. It was a good experience for our young squad though and proved to them that they could hang with the nations best. We did notch up a win against #53 ranked Grand Canyon in Phoenix who are a real good up and coming team. Weber also finished the year ranked #74 so to nearly sweep them at the end of the year was a big deal too. Fr pitcher Maddy Stensby also had two big games throwing two no hitters on the year. One versus Portland State and one versus Great Falls. Both games only went five innings but I'm sure they're signs of big things to come for the lefty.

Here is a list of the Big Sky teams, their con tourney finish, their national ranking, our record against them(home, neutral, away), and total points scored.
Weber St(1st)-#74, 2-2(2-1h 0-1a) 19-25
Idaho St(2nd)-#164, 1-3(1-0n 0-3a) 34-35
Sac St(3rd)-#175, 1-4(1-2h 0-2n) 24-35
Southern Utah(6th)-#227, 3-1(2-1a 1-0n) 40-31
Port St(5th)-#252, 4-0(3-0h 1-0n) 35-13
N Dak(8th)-#262, 3-0(3-0a) 18-11
N Col(7th)-#266, 3-0(3-0a) 25-16

Here's a stat breakdown of each player by position.

1B Ashlyn Lyons So 41/41g honerable mention team
.300/.345/.308 39h 10r 28rbi .978f%
2B Gabby Martenez So 51/51g
.226/.296/.248 31h 26r 11rbi 13sb 989f%
3B Bethany Olea Jr 56/56g 1st team all con
.408/.507/.550 69h 30r 27rbi 142b 35bb .937f%
SS Delene Colburn So 56/56g 2nd team all con
.344/.418/.607 63h 46r 63rbi 12hr 23bb .953f%
2B/LF/DP Tori Lettus So 16/32g
.228/.371/.316 13h 10r 9rbi

LF/RF Alex Wardlow So 21/31g
.217/.379/.239 10h 12r 6rbi 1000f%
CF Makenna McGill So 56/56g 2nd team all con
.374/.433/.389 76h 50r 19rbi 14sb 1000f%
RF/1B Sydney Stites Fr 56/56g 1st team all con
.383/.434/.672 77h 52r 47rbi 182b 12hr 34k .969f%
LF Mercedes Bourgeau So 28/37g
.171/.289/.224 13h 10h 11rbi 1er
RF/LF Madeline Merritt Jr 13/38g
.167/.306/.200 5h 18r 1rbi
LF/RF Katie Jo Waletzko So 3/31g
9ab 2h 8r
LF/RF McKenzie Phillips So 5/31g
9ab 1h 6r 1sb

C/DP Lexie Brennies So 54/54g 1st team all con
.397/.463/.564 71h 32r 43rbi 132b .985f%
DP/C Madison Saacke So 32/38g
.355/.386/.421 43h 4r 22rbi
C Dani Walker So 10/23g
.206/.289/.265 7h 7r 7rbi

Sara Stephenson Fr 20/35g 14-6w 2nd team all con
136.2i 4.56era 182h 50bb 79k
Maddy Stensby Fr 21/31g 4-9w
99.0i 4.74era 126h 57bb 64k
Colleen Driscoll Fr 1/16g 3-2w
38.2i 5.43era 58h 8bb 16k
Haley Young So 7/20g 5-2w
50.0i 6.72era 88h 30bb 29k

Noting that all major contributors return next year along with some more real good recruits, coupled with the fact that other teams are graduating Sr's that were major contributors to their team's success, I see next year as being our break out year where we begin to take ahold of the con. Go Griz!

Re: Griz softball 2016 season review

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:14 am
by MissoulaCanucksFan
Great assessment of their season! Totally agree with you about Stites, she'll be the league MVP before her time at UM is up, she's that damn good and she really impressed me over the course of the season.

Stephenson & Stensby will make themselves a dangerous 1-2 punch among the pitching staff down the road, and you can't count out Driscoll because she's got a high ceiling, too.

Can't wait to see what the signees will bring to the table when the fall season gets underway.

Re: Griz softball 2016 season review

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:34 pm
by alabamagrizzly
MissoulaCanucksFan wrote:Great assessment of their season! Totally agree with you about Stites, she'll be the league MVP before her time at UM is up, she's that damn good and she really impressed me over the course of the season.

Stephenson & Stensby will make themselves a dangerous 1-2 punch among the pitching staff down the road, and you can't count out Driscoll because she's got a high ceiling, too.

Can't wait to see what the signees will bring to the table when the fall season gets underway.
I'm really excited about where our program is going. Of the new signees, I think the pitcher and the Petrino outfielder will contribute a lot. The other outfielder should be a good role player. The Msla Big Sky catcher will be good but she'll be backing up Brennies. She may also play third after Olea graduates.

Re: Griz softball 2016 season review

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 4:37 pm
by EverettGriz
Fantastic write up Bama! Thanks, it's greatly appreciated.