The Rogers State University Hillcat softball team will begin its inaugural season this spring with a full schedule against several opponents throughout the region. Four tournaments are included on the spring schedule, which will include both NAIA and NCAA Division II competition.
The Hillcat softball team will open its season with a Feb. 9 doubleheader at Claremore High School against Arkansas Tech University, a NCAA Division II program from Russellville, Ark. The Golden Suns are lead by first year head coach Gidget Pambianchi. Finishing 27-21 last season, the Golden Suns will return seven starters and have added two newcomers to their roster.
“I believe starting the season against a competitive program will provide the Hillcats with the aggressive attitude I want our athletes to display,” said Dawn Reed, RSU head softball coach. “I want to set our goals high and reach for national recognition immediately.”
The spring season will be the team’s first full schedule of games since RSU was accepted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Although the Hillcats are not eligible for post-season play this year due to a mandatory one-year waiting period imposed by the NAIA, Reed said she believes establishing excellence is crucial even if the team isn’t immediately rewarded with the opportunity for post-season play.
Other highly regarded opponents on the RSU softball schedule include nationally ranked teams from Oklahoma City University, Bacone College and Evangel University. Oklahoma City received a bid to the NAIA national tournament in 2005 and finished ranked No. 7 in the NAIA final poll with an overall record of 47-16. Bacone finished No. 15 in the country with a Region 6 tournament bid and an overall record of 35-17. Evangel was ranked No. 22 in last season’s final poll with an overall record of 41-16.
“Having opponents of this caliber on our schedule during the first season will help us envision where we want to be in the near future. It will aid our program in understanding what it takes to compete on a nationally recognized level,” Reed said.
The Hillcat softball team will be playing “home” games at Claremore High School until work is completed on the new RSU baseball and softball fields, located on Blue Starr Drive next to the Claremore Veterans Center. The RSU baseball and softball fields are tentatively scheduled to open in March.
The Hillcat softball dates, which will all be doubleheaders except for tournament play, include the following:
Feb. 9, Arkansas Tech University, Claremore High School, 1:00 p.m.
Feb. 11, Bacone College, at Muskogee, 1:00 p.m.
Feb. 14, Southern Nazarene University, Claremore High School, 1:00 p.m.
Feb. 16, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Claremore High School, 2:00 p.m.
Feb. 24-25, Evangel University Tournament, at Springfield, Mo.
Feb. 28, Pittsburg State University, Claremore High School, 2:00 p.m.
Mar. 2, Southern Nazarene University, at Bethany, 1:00 p.m.
Mar. 5, Texas Wesleyan University, Claremore High School, 1:00 p.m.
Mar. 7, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, at Bartlesville, 4:00 p.m.
Mar. 9, Sterling College, Sterling, Kan., 4:00 p.m.
Mar. 10-11, Kansas Wesleyan Tournament, at Salina, Kan.
Mar. 14, Friends University, Claremore, location TBA, 2:00 p.m.
Mar. 22, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Claremore, location TBA, 2:00 p.m.
Mar. 25-26, Avila University Tournament, at Blue Springs, Mo.
Apr. 4, Oklahoma City University, Claremore, location TBA, 2:00 p.m.
Apr. 6, Southwestern College, Claremore, location TBA, 2:00 p.m.
Apr. 13, Friends University, at Wichita, Kan., 4:00 p.m.
Apr. 18, Oklahoma Christian University, at Edmond, 2:00 p.m.
Apr. 20, Sterling College, Claremore, location TBA, 2:00 p.m.
Apr. 21-22, OCU Tournament, Oklahoma City
Apr. 27, Bacone College, Claremore, location TBA, 3:00 p.m.
Apr. 29, Southwestern College, at Winfield, Kan., noon
May 2, Oklahoma Christian University, Claremore, location TBA, 2:00 p.m.
The RSU softball team is fielding 12 players with a variety of high school and junior college experience. The roster, listed by position, classification and high school, with college experience noted in parentheses, includes:
Jenny Ailshie, junior, shortstop, Claremore (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College); Leesha Dunbar, freshman, outfielder, Berryhill; Somer Dykes, junior, catcher, Tulsa (Eastern Oklahoma State College); Denise Garcia, junior, utility player, Pasadena, Calif. (Pasadena Community College); Amanda Hanner, freshman, third base/pitcher, Shawnee; Krista Schlumpberger, freshman, catcher/utility player, Vacaville, Calif.; Bridgett Stewart, junior, pitcher/first base, Owasso (Eastern Oklahoma State College); Carlee Suchy, junior, outfielder, Purcell (Paris Junior College); Samantha Sumter, freshman, outfielder, Oologah; Terren White, junior, second base, Nowata (Coffeyville Community College); Lisa Whitney, junior, first base/third base, Whittier, Calif. (Cypress Junior College); and Megan Wood, freshman, utility player, Claremore.
The Hillcat softball team is coached by Dawn Reed, who had previously served as the head softball coach at Bacone College. While at Bacone, Reed established a nationally recognized NAIA program which finished ranked in the top fifteen the previous two seasons. She joined RSU in June.
Tresa Beech, a former University of Tulsa softball player, is serving as a part-time assistant coach overseeing pitching, and Bianca Oakley, a former player for Reed at Bacone, is serving as a student assistant while she completes her undergraduate degree at RSU.
For more information on RSU Hillcat softball, call (918) 343-7562.