By Joey Bennett
Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
As the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville softball team goes through its last season before becoming eligible for the NCAA Division I championships next year, the Cougars are being led by a pair of sophomores who are Wabash Valley natives.
North Vermillion sophomore Whitney Davis leads the team in hitting at .316 as the starting first baseman and cleanup hitter, with five doubles, one homer, 17 RBI and seven runs scored with a .393 on-base percentage.
Meanwhile, Megan Murphy of Casey-Westfield has found a spot in left field and hitting leadoff in the batting order and is having a productive sophomore year.
Davis has handled 205 chances at first base with just one error.
“She came in and had a great freshman year for us,” said SIU-E coach Sandy Montgomery, also a Casey-Westfield grad and now in her 22nd year as head coach. “She hit almost .350 this year in the sixth spot, and has moved up to fourth. She’s doing a great job for us.”
Montgomery has seen a lot of progress in Davis’ swing this year, as well as her mental approach.
“She’s a patient hitter, but we are trying to get her to be more aggressive,” Montgomery said. “She can’t sit around too long in the count against D-1 pitching. They’re going to nibble around the edges, and she’s not going to be hitting the pitches she wants to hit.
“She’s been doing a better job here lately at being more aggressive.”
Davis missed almost all of her senior season due to a knee injury suffered in basketball, but showed up in Edwardsville not missing a beat. She has enjoyed her career, even though it’s not even halfway finished yet.
“We had a great group of seniors last year and we went 40-10,” said Davis, whose team is just 19-16 so far this year. “It has been a great experience and really fun. It hasn’t been harder than I thought in terms of the games, but it’s definitely a lot of time and a lot of work.”
From the spring games to off-season conditioning to the daily weights and training sessions and classroom work, Davis knows it’s like having a full-time job.
“It’s time consuming,” she said, “but definitely worth it.”
Whitney’s father and long-time coach, Mike, missed most of her games last year while continuing to serve as the North Vermillion varsity coach.
He has given up those duties this year, and is a regular staple at Cougar games.
“He has been to all of them,” said Whitney, who has already played in Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and Arkansas this year.
Murphy attended the University of Illinois for one semester before transferring to SIU-E, and found herself in a utility role that never led to a stable position.
“Megan has made a nice adjustment to playing left field and has hit the ball well,” Montgomery said. “She is hitting close to .300 and she is swinging away as well as slapping.”
Murphy is fourth on the team in hitting at .286 and has four doubles, 10 RBI with 17 runs scored.
Her transfer last year was academic in nature, and Murphy is happy with how things are turning out.
“I changed my major to nursing, and it was better for me to go to SIU-E,” she said. “Softball wise it was also a really good fit. It’s been a nerve-wracking process, but we are one big family here and they take you in pretty easily.”
Murphy was an all-state infielder for several state finalist Warrior teams in high school, but is now getting the hang of playing the outfield.
“The transition to outfield is a big adjustment,” she said. “There are a lot of differences in reading the ball off the bat. It’s more relaxing out there, and it gives you longer to think about things.
“I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s been a good thing.”
• • •
• Hayes on a roll — Terre Haute North grad Alicia Hayes is wrapping up her college career this spring in her second year at IUPUI, and in late March had a streak of four consecutive games in which she hit a home run.
Hayes is the starting catcher for the 7-23 Jaguars, and has six homers on the season with 13 RBI.
“To be honest, I really don’t know what has led to my home run streak,” she said. “I just have been going up to bat and thinking that I need to get some hits and get out of my slump I have been in for the last few games.
“It feels great to be able to get out of my slump with a couple home runs!”
Hayes hit only one homer last year with two RBI.
“Even now, I don’t go up thinking I am going to hit a home run – I just go up there thinking base hits and if a home run comes, great,” she said. “The home runs do look more intimidating when other teams look at your stats!”
Hayes played two seasons at Lake Land College in Illinois, which included a trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association championships.
Wins have been harder to come by at IUPUI, which had a 3-50 record last season.
“I have had a lot of ups and a couple downs,” she said. “At Lake Land, everything was so easy to me and everything was great, I never really had any down moments there.
“My junior year was my worst down point because going from a Division I junior college to a Division I four year school is a big leap. I had a little bit of trouble adjusting to it, but now I have had a year experience and this year I came out saying I am going to have an awesome senior year!”
Hayes will be done with softball, but not with college.
She will be attending Kaplan College in the fall for an accelerated, one-year nursing program before going to Ivy Tech to study radiology.
• • •
• Ciolli making strides — Terre Haute North grad Megan Ciolli began coaching college softball while attending grad school at Loyola University in Chicago following her standout playing career at Notre Dame.
She received her Master’s of Business Administration in healthcare administration from Loyola in 2007, but has stayed in coaching at Northern Illinois while also continuing her professional playing career.
She doesn’t play anymore, but is in her third year as an assistant at NIU and is having a lot of success, which is nothing new for the former Indiana “Miss Softball” and Notre Dame All-American.
During her tenure at Northern Illinois, Ciolli has blossomed as a coach and helped develop NIU’s young talent, while also refining the skills of the Huskie veterans.
NIU coach Lindsay Chouinard, a former professional teammate of Ciolli’s, is impressed by her knowledge of the game and her ability to pass that knowledge onto the players.
“Megan knows the swing in and out,” Chouinard said. “She is a great instructor. Over the past couple of years, she has done a great job of transitioning from being specifically an instructor to more of a coach.”
Chouinard credits Ciolli with the development of former NIU outfielders Jenna Roberts, who tied the NIU single season record for stolen bases in 2009, and Katie Colby, who hit her first career home runs last season. Ciolli has also had an impact on current Huskie outfielders Dani Parrish and Zoe Sinner and 2009 MAC All-Tournament team honoree Andrea Colosimo.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the diamond
Cody Pearson, Fr., Franklin – Listed on team’s roster, but has not appeared in a game this year.
D.J. Throneburg, Parkland College – Serving in third year as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
Brennan Ragon, Jr., Olivet Nazarene – Has pitched in two games this year with a 0-0 record.
Taylor Biggs, Fr., Parkland – Has a 1-0 pitching record with a 1.22 ERA.
Logan Ross, Fr., Danville Area CC – Has one hit in two at-bats.
Cody Nees, Jr., Franklin – Has played in five games, hitting .333 with two doubles and two RBI. Has pitched in four games with 1-1 record and 2.25 ERA.
Derrick Patterson, Jr., Franklin – Has pitched in three games with 1-0 record and 3.44 ERA.
Keith Cunningham, Fr., Franklin – Listed on team’s roster, but has not appeared in a game this year.
Ben Klimek, Fr., Wabash (son of Terre Haute native Gary Klimek) – Playing for the Little Giants’ JV team. Statistics not available.
Derek Eitel, Sr., Rose-Hulman – Is 4-1 with a 1.25. Has 42 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched.
Kyle Burnam, So., Indiana State – Ranks fifth on team in hitting at .348 with 18 runs scored and 16 RBI.
Kevin Greve, Earlham – Serving in first year as assistant coach at his alma mater.
Josh Lindsay, Fr., Lincoln Trail – No statistics available.
Storm Lindsay, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Has pitched in four games with 0-0 record and 5.14 ERA.
John Reberger, Jr., Purdue-North Central – Has played in 14 games, starting 12, and is hitting .310 with six RBI and eight runs scored.
Avery Mason, Fr., Olney Central – No information available.
Johnny Dayton, Fr., Lake Land – Batting .362 with one double, 23 RBI and 28 runs scored.
Jordin McLaughlin, Southeastern Illinois – In first year as assistant coach.
Adam Richart, Jr., Indiana State – Is hitless in one at-bat this season.
Jeff McDole, DePauw – Serving as assistant coach.
Noah Boswell, Fr., Kentucky Wesleyan – Has pitched one inning in two appearances.
Taylor Harper, So., Ancilla – Won his first three games this year, with 12 strikeouts in 19 innings and a 0.94 ERA.
Luke Greene, So., Lake Land – Batting .100 with one double, one triple, five runs and five RBI.
Steven Ball, Fr., Indiana State – Has played in 16 games, starting seven, and is hitting .286 with five runs scored and eight RBI.
Matt King, Fr., Indiana State – Is listed on team’s roster, has not played this season.
Terre Haute North
Max Hutson, Indiana State – Serving in first year as volunteer assistant coach.
Scott Lawson, Rose-Hulman – Serving in first year as pitching coach.
Andrew Woodason, Jr., Oakland City – Is playing third base and hitting cleanup. No season statistics available; homered against Kentucky Wesleyan on March 10.
Brandon Dorsett, So., Indiana State – Has pitched nine innings in eight relief appearances with a 3.86 ERA.
Joe Meggs, So., Washington – Sitting out season as redshirt after transferring from Indiana State.
Jared Eller, Fr., Ancilla – Played in nine of team’s first 11 games at 3B and DH, starting 6, and is hitting .333 with a .500 on-base percentage. He has also pitched two innings.
Nick Pilipovich, Fr., Rose-Hulman – Playing on the Engineer JV team, Pilipovich had a walk-off homer in a recent victory over Indiana University’s club team.
Michael Eberle, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Batting .384 (fourth on team) with eight doubles, three homers, 20 RBI and 26 runs.
Terre Haute South
Bobby Woods, Jr., Alcorn State – Sitting out season after transferring from Olney Central.
Cole Vicars, Jr., Alcorn State – Has played in 21 of 24 games, all as a starter, and is fifth on team in hitting at .299. Has one double, one triple, 15 RBI, 19 runs scored and six stolen bases. Defensively, has one error in 90 chances.
Koby Kraemer, So., Indiana State – Sitting out season as redshirt due to injury.
Evan Luken, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Batting .341 with three doubles, one triple, 17 RBI and nine runs.
Morgan Coombs, Sr., Ball State – Has pitched in five games, starting two, with a 1-1 record and a 2.11 ERA. He has struck out 21 batters in 21.1 innings.
Bryan Chestnut, So., Indiana State – Has played in eight games, starting none, and is hitting .143 with one homer and three runs scored.
Jordan Pearson, Fr., Indiana State – Has played in 15 games, starting eight, and is hitting .185 with five RBI and seven runs scored.
Jeremy Lucas, Fr., Indiana State – Has played in 18 games, starting 15, and is hitting .278 with one homer, six RBI and 15 runs scored.
Cameron Fagg, Fr., Wright State – Has played in six games, starting five, and is hitting .267 with one run scored and one RBI.
Cogan Keith, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Has pitched in four games with 0-0 record.
Sandy Montgomery, head coach, SIU-Edwardsville – In 22nd season as head coach.
Megan Murphy, So., SIU-Edwardsville – Ranks fourth on team in hitting at .286, also has four doubles, 10 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Brianna Athey, So., Lake Land – Batting .288 with seven doubles, one triple, two homers, 12 RBI and 19 runs scored.
Mackenzie Connelly, Fr., Indiana State – Has started 24 games and is fourth on team in hitting at .286 with one homer and nine RBI.
Chelsee Gerber, Jr., St. Mary-of-the-Woods – Batting .284 with one double, three RBI and 17 runs scored.
Angie Camp, So., Olney Central – Batting .371 with 11 RBI, 13 runs and five doubles.
Haleigh Spencer, DePauw – Serving as assistant coach.
Jacilyn McClain, Jr., Lindenwood – Playing for JV team; no statistics available.
Jacki Porter, So., Wabash Valley College – Batting .188 with one RBI.
Nicole Miller, So., Rend Lake – Batting .192 with one RBI and five runs scored.
Samantha Barbee, Fr., Southern Indiana – Has played in 12 games, starting one, and is hitting .250.
Siona Taft, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Statistics not available.
Kayla Irwin, Fr., Rose-Hulman – Has played in nine games defensively; has not batted.
Whitney Davis, So., SIU-Edwardsville – Leads team in hitting at .316 with five doubles, one homer, 17 RBI and seven runs.
Ashley Corbin, So., Danville Area CC – Batting .043 with one RBI.
Stephanie Jonson, Jr., Indiana State – Has started 24 games in center field and ranks fifth on team in hitting at .284 with two homers and nine RBI.
Traci Sanders, So., Olney Central – Batting .495 (first on team) with seven doubles, 21 runs and 32 RBI (first on team).
Abby Birkey, So., Grace – Has played in 12 games at catcher, making no errors in 49 chances.
Shelby Colson, Fr., Glenville (W.Va.) State – Sitting out this season, will begin playing next year.
Jalyne Goss, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Statistics not available.
Ashley Loomis-Organ, St. Mary-of-the-Woods – Serving as pitching coach.
Megan Vincent, Fr., Wabash Valley – Has two hits in six at-bats.
Jamie Lytle, Olney Central – In first year as assistant coach.
Amanda McGlone, Sr., St. Mary-of-the-Woods – Hitting .220 with one triple, four RBI and 11 runs scored.
Chevauna Adams, So., Millikin – Has pitched in seven games, starting five, with a 3-1 record and a 3.96 ERA.
Ericka Bonnell, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Statistics not available.
Erin Jones, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Statistics not available.
Amber Hildebrand, Fr., Kaskaskia – Has a 4-6 pitching record with a 3.47 ERA.
Chelsea Baker, Jr., St. Mary-of-the-Woods – Batting .302 with two doubles, one homer, three RBI and nine runs scored.
Meghan Canary, So., Rose-Hulman – Is batting .281 with five RBI.
Brian Shearer, Rose-Hulman – Is in 7th year as head coach.
Reva Ledune-Bourgasser, Jr., Southern Indiana – Has played in 24 games, starting 22, and is hitting .266 with four home runs, five doubles, eight runs scored and 15 RBI.
Terre Haute North
Megan Ciolli, Northern Illinois – In third season as assistant coach.
Alicia Hayes, Sr., IUPUI – Hitting .171 with six home runs and 13 RBI.
Kelsey Rosselli, Fr., St. Mary-of-the-Woods – Batting .342 with 15 runs scored, four doubles, one triple, five RBI and seven stolen bases.
Terre Haute South
Kelly Fougerousse, Jr., Mid-Continent (Tenn.) University – Has started all 23 games, hitting .333 with five doubles, two homers, 12 RBI and eight RBI. Has a 2-4 pitching record with a 1.24 ERA.
Rachel McCleary, Jr., Indiana State – Has played in 14 games, starting 10, and is hitting .103 with one RBI.
Tiffany Fendrick, Fr., Lincoln Trail – Statistics not available.
Chelsea Hanner, Jr., Hanover – Has pitched in eight games, with a 2-5 record and a 9.57 ERA.
Alex Woody, Fr., Indiana State – Has one hit in her only at-bat this season after being slowed by injury.