MCC softball looks to build off record-setting 2012

The 2012 softball season for Marshalltown Community College was a memorable one from an offensive standpoint.

The Tigers set school records in five major categories on their way to a 26-22 record. This season, MCC hopes to build off the success but will likely have to do it differently after losing one of the best players the program’s ever seen in Hally Lenzine.

“There is no replacing Hally,” MCC coach Jeff Lamb said. “We have some power this year, but we will be much more rounded. You can’t replace her 29 home runs. But we have a lot of good things going for us. We have some speed and we have some power.”

Lenzine rewrote the MCC record books last year with her 29 homers, 77 RBIs and 53 runs. She took her talents to Iowa State University.

Lamb said this year’s Tiger squad will see more players hit in the 5-10 home run range than in past seasons. He also thinks they can be a better base running team than last year and are better on defense and in the circle, too.

Leading the way will be three returning sophomores – Marissa Basham, Erica White and Stacy Roggentein.

Basham set a school record for doubles in a season with 23 last year and has nine hits, 10 runs, three home runs and seven RBIs in nine games games so far in 2013.

“She has everything you want in a softball player,” said Lamb, who begins his fifth year as head coach of the Tigers. “She has speed, power and is very good behind the plate. She is entertaining and enjoyable to have around. It helps to have her in the lineup and on the field.”

Basham expects a much different offensive squad this season than the one that stepped onto the field last year.

“I don’t think we will hit as many long balls,” Basham said. “We have a lot of good slap hitters and we’ll put the ball in play and move runners more. That is how we will do it. We have a lot of good hitters, too.”

While Lenzine’s numbers are virtually impossible to replace, White may have the best chance to do so. She blasted 11 homers and had 42 RBIs last year and already has seven hits, seven RBIs and is batting .368 in 2013.

“Someone is going to have to take over the leadership role,” White said. “We have four sophomores so we need to learn from our experience and teach the new girls. I learned a lot of things from Hally last year. I have gained a lot from that experience. I feel like I am stronger and my numbers are better.”

White knows it will be tough to replace Lenzine with one player, but she is up for the challenge of being the one who may have to carry a big chunk of that responsibility.

“It is my responsibility to fill her shoes,” White said. “Her doing so well will push me and motivate me to become better at what I do.”

Roggentein will split pitching duties with freshman Taylor Vaske, a Marshalltown native. Roggentein was 12-14 last year with an earned run average of 4.45, but she also set a school record with 105 strikeouts.

“Stacy and Taylor are a little bit further along than anyone else,” Lamb said of the team’s pitching staff. “We’ll go with those two as our horses and use the other ones as we need them. Stacy has been throwing very well, and Taylor will step in and do a lot of things for us.”

Roggentein is 1-1 with a 3.73 ERA, while Vaske is 1-3 with an earned run average of 4.67. The other pitchers who will compete for playing time include Sarah Wilson, Mackenzie Gott and Brianna James.

“I feel like I am more prepared and I know what to expect this season,” Roggentein said. “My pitches are more accurate, and I picked up a curve ball in the offseason. The ball is moving more too.”

While White and Basham are returners, a few freshman have caught Lamb’s eye during the early stages of the season.

Brooke Dunkin is off to a great start with 10 hits and three RBIs and a .357 batting average in the first eight games.

Wilson and Kyndal Mildred also are expected to make an immediate impact.

“The entire team is starting to buy into what we are talking about,” Lamb said. “We are getting the women in here that will ask how high when I say jump. They are just buying into what we are teaching and coaching.”

The Tigers have not gotten off to the start they wanted, winning just two of their first nine games.

A big reason for the early struggles may be attributed to not being able to practice outside with so much inclement weather in Iowa during the months of February and March.

“It’s really hard to hit in a cage and the ball bounces off the gym floor much differently than the dirt outside. You can’t even hit pop flys.”

The Tigers recently dropped two games to Volunteer State by a combined three runs and committed eight errors in the two contests.

The offense and pitching has been good enough to win games.

Once the defense comes around, the Tigers should stay competitive in a very tough conference that features two NJCAA D-II ranked teams in No. 6 Kirkwood Community College and No. 12 Des Moines Area Community College.

“If you look at the stats outside our region, we beat up on everyone outside of the region and then beat up on each other,” Lamb said. “It’s get to the tournament and see what happens usually. We just have to do what we do.”

The Tigers were slated to play in their home opener today but the doubleheader against rival Indian Hills has been postponed until further notice due to inclement weather.

MCC (2-7) will next play at Iowa Western on Tuesday and then will head to Creston to play Southwestern on Wednesday.

The new home opener is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, against Iowa Central.

First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.