HANOVER, Ind. – Opening Day is less than two weeks away for the Hanover softball team, so to celebrate we open our annual position preview series with a look at the pitchers and catchers.
The Panthers are coming off a 2018 campaign that saw them go 19-17 overall and 7-9 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. Cori Collinsworth became the first head coach in program history to post an overall winning percentage above .500 in their inaugural season at Hanover.
The Blue and Red will look to return to the HCAC Tournament this season, as the squad was recently picked to finish fourth in a coaches' preseason poll. The last time HC qualified for the conference tournament, the they won it, sending the squad to its first ever NCAA Division III National Tournament appearance in 2016.
Coach Collinsworth is pleased with and hoping the offseason preparations by the pitchers and catchers will pay off once the season arrives, "our battery packs have been working very hard this offseason both in the weight room and developing their skills. I have enjoyed watching their progress and the way they work as a full staff, not just individuals."
Headlining the group is sophomore pitcher Lily Beurman (Evansville, Ind.). Beurman logged 110.1 innings pitched as a freshman, as she posted 11 complete games, including three shutouts en route to a 3.24 earned run average. The now-sophomore went 8-9 with one save, while striking out 79 batters. She also had one of the nation's top strikeout-to-walk ratios at 3.59.
Classmate Ashley Swearingen (Clarksville, Ind.) returns as well, as she appeared in all 36 games a season ago, mainly behind the plate. Swearingen's initial campaign with HC saw her bat .271, logging 26 hits, three doubles and one home run. As a freshman she also added 17 runs scored and 11 RBI. Swearingen got off to a fast start last spring, highlighted by a 5-for-7 performance during a doubleheader on the second day of the team's annual Florida trip.
After missing the 2018 campaign, seniors Tori Luster (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Allison Wiseman (New Albany, Ind.) are back this spring. Luster returns after serving in the National Guard in Cuba last season, while Wiseman missed 2018 due to injury.
Over her first three years with the Blue and Red, Luster has produced a career .325 batting average with 24 extra-base hits, including six home runs. As one of HC's top power bats, the senior has 43 career RBI and 34 runs scored. In her most recent season with the Panthers, 2017, Luster batted a career-best .366, while logging six doubles, one homer, 10 RBI and 10 runs.
Wiseman will look to add depth to the pitching staff, as she has appeared in the circle in 80.1 innings in her career. In 2017, she posted a 3.05 ERA en route to a 6-2 record. In two complete seasons, Wiseman has a 7-4 record, one save and a career ERA of 3.14.
The senior has not only been helpful in the circle, but also in the field and at the plate. Playing as an infielder Wiseman has a 1.000 field percentage, converting on all 127 chances (85 putouts, 42 assists). In the batter's box, she has a career .231 average over 91 at-bats, as well as six doubles and a pair of home runs.
This group complements each other very well," added Collinsworth. "I am looking forward to seeing their progress continue and strengthen throughout the season."
Hanover is set to open the 2019 slate with eight games in five days down in Florida. The stretch begins at noon, Sunday, Feb. 24, against Cabrini (Pa.).
Contact: Tyler Jester