HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover softball season is less than a week away and we conclude our annual position preview series with a review of the returning infielders and utility players.
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, they won it, sending the squad to its first ever NCAA Division III National Tournament in 2016.
"Our infield is packed with returners and a lot of experience from previous years," stated Collinsworth. "Each player is versatile and athletic enough to move to any position on the infield."
Junior Shelby Edington (New Goshen, Ky.) is the infielder that has enjoyed the most success at the plate for the Panther returners. Edington batted .302 last season, a .200 improvement from Year One, while adding 24 RBI, 13 runs, five doubles and four home runs. Highlighting her sophomore campaign was a four-for-four effort at Manchester, a game she hit two balls over the fence.
The Blue and Red's two most experienced players, in terms of games played, are junior Taylor Merrill (Brownsburg, Ind.) and senior Carlie Roark (Hebron, Ky.), as the tandem has combined for 100 career appearances. Merrill, a .262 career hitter, has played in 54 games for the Panthers. Roark has played in 46 games over the past three seasons and was a member of the 2016 national tournament team.
Sophomores Brittney Ralston (Lexington, Ind.) and Hannah Wilson (Louisville, Ky.), along with freshman Kiley Shedron (Cloverdale, Ind.), will all look to provide depth to the infield group this season. Ralston and Wilson combined for 12 hits, 12 runs and six RBI in limited action last spring, while Shedron is entering her first campaign with the Blue and Red in 2019.
Additionally, senior Allison Wiseman (New Albany, Ind.) and sophomore Ashley Swearingen (Clarksville, Ind.) have seen time in the infield during their collegiate careers. The two are also charged with pitching and catching duties, respectively.
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