By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University's softball players are ready to start the 2019 season, and the Bearcats will do just that on Friday, Feb. 22 with a doubleheader against the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho, beginning at 12 p.m. MST/11 a.m. PST. College of Idaho, which competes in the NAIA, is 6-0 after playing a series of games in Arizona. Willamette competes in NCAA Division III.
The Bearcats will play a total of five games in Caldwell and Nampa, Idaho, over the weekend as part of the College of Idaho Tournament. Willamette will take on Carroll College (Mont.) and Northwest Nazarene University (Idaho) in one game each on Saturday, Feb. 23 in Nampa, before returning to Caldwell to battle Menlo College (Calif.) in a single game on Sunday, Feb. 24. On Saturday, the Bearcats will play Carroll at 10:30 a.m. MST/9:30 a.m. PST, before facing Northwest Nazarene two hours later. On Sunday, Willamette's game with Menlo will start at 10 a.m. MST/9 a.m. PST.
Although the Bearcats hope to play all five games on the schedule, the weather is expected to be cold and there is a chance for rain or snow on Saturday and Sunday.
Head Coach Damian Williams and the Bearcats have high expectations for the season with nearly every player back from last year, plus the addition of several talented newcomers. In 2018, the Bearcats had six freshman, seven sophomores and two juniors. The team gained experience and now has two seniors and eight juniors to lead the squad.
The top returning player of the Bearcats is junior Jocelyn Glasgo (Jr., P, Rochester, WA/Tumwater HS), who was named First Team All-Northwest Conference last season as a utility player. She contributed to the team as a pitcher, outfielder and designated player. Glasgo was chosen Second Team All-NWC in 2017.
Inside the circle, Glasgo made 18 appearances (15 starts), threw 87 1/3 innings and struck out 46 batters. On offense, Glasgo led the team with a .391 batting average and also ranked first on the squad with 34 hits, 20 RBIs, five triples, a .632 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage. She earned a team-high 12 stolen bases on 13 attempts. She tied for first on the squad with two home runs and five doubles. She was second for the Bearcats with 15 runs scored.
Glasgo enters her junior season with 111 1/3 career innings and 71 career strikeouts in the circle. She owns a career .387 batting average with 23 runs, 31 RBIs, eight doubles, five triples and four home runs. She has a solid career slugging percentage of .606 and an on-base percentage of .478. She is 18 of 19 on career stolen bases.
Two players who hit just under .300 as freshmen last year return for the Bearcats. They are Bailey Hillmick (So., DP/UT, Athena, OR/Weston-McEween HS) and Breianna Mcleod (So., OF, Kailua Kona, HI/West Hawaii Explorations Acad.).
Hillmick, who played in 34 of 35 games with 32 starts, batted .293 with 11 runs and 14 RBIs. She earned three doubles, one triple and one home run to go along with a .480 on-base percentage. Mcleod saw action in all 35 games with 34 starts. She hit .291, scored a team-high 16 runs and collected four extra-bae hits, including one home run.
Other key experienced players are Sofia Magnani (Jr., P/OF, Belmont, CA/Notre Dame HS), Reanna Lancaster (Sr., P, Los Altos, CA/Mountain View HS), Emily Bishop (Sr., OF, Maple Valley, WA/Tahoma HS/Pierce College), Maya Shipway (Jr., 1B, Bothell, WA/The Bear Creek School), Morgan Penn (Jr., P/1B, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS).
Magnani batted .271 and blasted four doubles, while playing ni 31 games with 31 starts. She pitched in game games for a total of 19 1/3 innings and recorded nine strikeouts. Lancaster hit .371 in limited at bats (3 of 8), while pitching 35 1/3 innings and achieving 19 strikeouts in the circle. Lancaster has registered a .300 career batting average (12 of 40) and has pithed in 53 games with 29 starts. She has struck out 72 batters in 142 innings pitched.
Bishop provided Willamette with a .263 batting average last season in 34 games (33 starts) after transferring from Pierce College. She led WU with 99 at bats and ranked second on the team with 26 hits. She scored 14 runs and earned three doubles.
Shipway hit .233 a year ago, while playing in 30 games with 29 starts. She scored 13 runs and collected 14 RBIs in addition to pounding out five doubles and two homers. Shipway topped the defensive chart with 181 putouts. Penn's 18 appearances in the circle trailed only Glasgo. While tossing a total of 32 innings, Penn amassed 14 strikeouts.
Transfer players to the Bearcats are Aaliyah Lopez-Martinez (Jr., Northridge, CA/Cleveland HS/L.A. Valley College) and Marley Nicassio (So./Fr., Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS/Holy Names Univ.). Lopez-Martinez played softball at L.A. Valley College, while Nicassio did not compete in athletics at Holy Names University.
Eight first-year college students have joined Willamette as freshmen this season. They are Jewel Fleckenstein (UT, Wasilla, AK/Mat-Su Middle College School), Cassie Cosler 1B, Albany, OR/West Albany HS), Sailor Mickey (2B, Lake Oswego, OR/Lakeridge HS), Kelsey Wong (UT, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School), Meghan Hook (C, Sunnyvale, CA/Homestead HS), Payton Healy (SS, Crescent City, CA/Del Norte HS), Amber Griffith (UT, Brush Prairie, WA/Hockinson HS), Kilani Fierstos (2B, Redmond, OR/Redmond HS).
Williams enters his 20th season as the Bearcats' head coach. He has accumulated a career record of 354-333 (.515) at Willamette, including 265-227 (.539) in NWC action.
The Bearcats will play four games against each NWC opponent, starting with two doubleheaders at Pacific University on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3 in Forest Grove, Oregon. Each twinbill will get underway at 12 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats are scheduled to play their first home games of the season against NWC rival Whitworth University on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, with doubleheaders beginning at 12 p.m. each day.
In addition to 28 game in NWC action, the Bearcats will play six games in Southern California at the start of Spring Break. Willamette will take on Williams College (Mass.) in a doubleheader at Whittier College on March 23, followed by two games at Occidental College in Los Angeles on March 24. The Bearcats will take on University of Redlands in a doubleheader on March 26 in Redlands.