Manchester University
Oak Leaves

March 4, 2016

Softball - Savannah

HEY BATTER BATTER Sophomore Mikayla Deisler steps up to the plate. Photo by Savannah Riley

Spartan Softball Players look forward to Season

Keith Berry

The softball season is underway and the Spartans have begun preparing for a great year. Last season, the Spartans finished with a record of 16-17 overall, 5-5 at home and 7-5 away, 4-7 neutral and 9-8 in conference play. Looking to top their efforts this season, Manchester University is listed 5th in the preseason polls, collecting 48 ranking points according to

The Spartans have a strong roster with key players that will help push toward another tournament run. These players include senior catcher Kaile Niezgodski (South Bend, Ind.), senior infielder/catcher MacKenzie Williams (Kendallville, Ind.), junior outfielder Emilee Liston (Cicero, Ind.) and sophomore infielder Laurren Ladwig (Crown Point, Ind.) according to Ladwig was named to the first team all HCAC. According to, she led the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) with a .936 slugging percentage in conference play this spring while ranking among the top 10 in batting average (.426), on-base percentage (.491), runs scored (13), hits (20), home runs (6), RBI (14), and total bases (44). Junior first baseman MacKenzie Williams (Kendallville, Ind.), was named to the HCAC postseason tournament honors team. She contributed 4 total hits, three of which were doubles, and a home run to top things off. She averaged .571 at the plate during the tournament.

With the first game closing in, Head Coach Josh Dzurick and Spartans voiced their expectations for this upcoming season. Freshman utility player Morgan Butler may not be able to look forward to playing this season due to a torn labral, but she expresses how she can contribute to the team despite her injury. “I may not be able to physically learn new things due to an injury, but that doesn't mean I won't look forward to seeing what other plans this season has for me and watching as my team grows together,” she said.

Dzurick also expressed his outlook on the upcoming season. “I’m looking forward to hopefully having a warm dry season,” he said. “Other than that, I guess we’re excited to see our deep roster compete.”

The players are excited to begin the season. “I’m looking forward to the talent we have on the team,” said senior infielder/catcher MacKenzie Williams. “Watching the team at practice gets me so excited because we could go far this year!”

Senior catcher Kalie Niezgodski reflects on her last season as a Spartan. “I am looking forward to spending my last season with my teammates the most without a doubt,” she said. “The game is great but in ten or twenty years I won’t remember the games themselves rather the fun times I’ve had and friendships I’ve made with my teammates.”

Personal goals become team goals for this ball club. Most of the players expressed that they just want to do whatever it takes to compete in this year’s tournament again. “My personal goals for the season would have to be to do my best in order to help the team achieve our goal,” Williams said.

She was backed up by her teammate, junior outfielder Emilee Liston (Cicero, Ind.). “Personally, a repeat trip to the conference tournament is on my to-do list,” she said. “It'd be even better if we hosted it. I'd also like to have a season that mirrors my freshman season, as it was more successful than my sophomore season.”

Dzurick explained the team goals as a whole. “Team goals are simple,” he said. “I would like to maintain above a 3.0 team GPA, make HCAC tournament, and represent MU in a positive way on and off the field,” he added. 

Collectively, the Spartans agree that the Anderson Ravens top off the team’s list of rivals to beat. “Absolutely without a doubt and I know my team will back me up on this one....ANDERSON!!” said senior outfielder Ashley Stahl (Wheatland, Ind).

The Spartan’s first games take place March 10 against the Huntington University Foresters at the MU softball field at 3 and 5 p.m.