News From Terre Haute, Indiana


March 23, 2014

ISU stretching to improve softball program

TERRE HAUTE — Some are from as far away as California, or Arizona or Iowa. Some played their high school games a little closer to Terre Haute, such as at North Central or Clay City.

But all the Indiana State softball players seem to agree on one thing: There’s no place to play like the place they now call home.

“We’re definitely different. Our culture is unique,” said sophomore outfielder Kelsey Montgomery, a product of Mesa, Ariz.

“We’re different than any team we’re going to play,” senior shortstop Morgan Allee — she’s from Cedar Rapids, Iowa — agrees.

The difference, both players and coaches agree, is what gives the Sycamores a fighting chance in the Missouri Valley Conference this season and for seasons to come, despite a three-game sweep at the hands of Wichita State over the weekend.

So what makes them unique, several Sycamores are asked.

“Energy, energy, energy,” said Montgomery, who entered the series against the Shockers ranked first in the conference and among the top 40 in the nation in batting average. “You don’t see other teams sprinting out to the field [which the Sycamores do at every opportunity]. … We feed off each other and we pick each other up.”

“The overall energy and attitude of everybody gets you excited,” junior first baseman Megan Stone — she’s the one from North Central — added. “When I’m out there at first base, I just know somebody is going to make a great pitch or a great play. The thrill of it is really awesome.”

“We outhustle and outenergy other teams,” said Allee. “I think we’re a fun team to watch.”

“We’re going to play an aggressive style,” coach Shane Bouman promised recently.

“We like to run and steal bases (the Sycamores entered the Wichita series averaging 2.5 steals per game, led by Allee with 22 in 25 games). We want our pitchers to get ahead in the strike zone, and we want to play with great energy.”

Neither the Sycamores nor the Shockers had a pitcher averaging a strikeout per inning in the recently completed series, so swing-and-miss softball was the exception rather than the norm in the three games.

“There are less elite pitchers,” Bouman said, “that’s just part of the game. If you have an elite pitcher, chances are you’re an elite team.”

Without an elite pitcher, the coach continued, “You’ve got to hit your spots and change speeds, and we got girls (Yvette Alvarez, Taylor Lockwood and Halle Humphrey) that can do that.”

Bouman mixed and matched his three pitchers against the Shockers in all three games, with varying amounts of success. The Sycamores could never get a lead, however, and once the bigger visitors started scoring some runs ISU’s speed became less a factor.

There’s no discouragement in the ISU dugout, however.

“We’ve just got to find a way to win games,” Bouman said.

“We’re in a great spot, and it’s only going to get better from here,” Stone said. “Seeing where the team [improved] since the fall is exciting, and we’re ready to keep going.”

Stone’s bat figures to help that journey. Almost as famous for injuries as for her athleticism when she was playing for the Thunderbirds, she is now healthy and on a roll, with three homers in her first three MVC games.

“I started out a little slowly,” she said, “but I’ve got my swing back.”

“[The season is] going to be great,” Montgomery added. “There are a lot of things we have to improve on, but since last year we’ve grown a lot.”

Montgomery’s bat also figures to be a key component of the Sycamore season.

“The coaches have me focusing on the mental aspect,” she said, “and I’m more confident this year.”

“The coaching staff does a great job to prepare us,” agreed Allee, last year’s MVC Newcomer of the Year and a preseason first-team all-conference selection.

Although she was plucked from the neighborhood of MVC favorite Northern Iowa, Allee seems willing to go back home and recruit more Iowa players to Indiana State.

“I’d tell [players in Iowa] that I have the time of my life here,” she said recently, “and that players who come here become not only better athletes but better people.”

That’s another reason, Bouman said, that the future is bright.

“They’re all good kids,” the coach said of his players. “They go to class, they get good grades and they care about each other.

“I like where the program is going.”

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SPT072114 golf hug.jpg

Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Friendly rivals: Rachel Welker, right, hugs Cara Stuckey after Welker won the Terre Haute Women�s City golf Championship Monday morning. Watching is Welker�s caddy/dad Charlie.

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Local Interest
High School
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