Softball wants return to playoffs
Die-hard, lifer, enthusiast. There are many titles for an individual who devotes their existence to a specific sport.
Northwestern head softball coach, Jen Horner, is one of those people who are devoted to the game of softball. She loves it so much, she didn't realize how much she would miss it when it exited her life.
"Things don't seem the same when you don't have softball as a part of your life in some aspect," Horner said, who is coming back for her second head coaching stint at Northwestern. "Since I have been playing or involved with softball in some way for most of my life, it just doesn't seem normal being away from it."
Horner was away for just one season, a year where the Lady Tigers went 6-14 overall and 4-12 in the Colonial League. Last year's head coach, Carey Troxell, returns to an assistant coaching role as Horner "is excited at the opportunity" to be back with this program.
This will be Horner's 13th season and she has some talented girls returning to the diamond.
Sophomore pitcher Lydia Danner highlights the group as she had a fantastic freshman season in the circle. Returning with her are junior outfielder Emily Bennett, junior catcher Sunny Greenberg, senior outfielder Erynn Day, senior outfielder Kylee Bennett, senior first baseman Callie Rehrig and senior outfielder Morgan Cleary.
Joining that group this spring are sophomore second baseman Claire O'Dea, sophomore designated player/first baseman Caitlyn Bowers, sophomore third baseman Alyssa Rodda, sophomore Morgan Billig, sophomore Ellen Smith, freshman shortstop Brooke Wehr and freshman Avery George.
The roles of some of those players, especially the new underclassmen, are still a little uncertain, as Mother Nature has hindered Horner's evaluation process.
"It has made it difficult to make decisions on positions," she said. "It also has made it difficult to go over a lot of different situations, offensively and defensively."
Although the lack of proper preparation has made it difficult to fully assess the squad, Horner stated that she like the girls' work ethic and their positive atmosphere that they all created together.
One certainty is that the infield will be full of new players, which will be a work in progress early on, according to Horner.
Northwestern missed out on postseason action in 2013, but Horner believes that it is plausible for 2014.
"I think that we will be up for the challenge," she said. "There is a lot to see yet, obviously, we are just looking for them to progress and take it one game at a time. Of course our goals are to make it to the playoffs, but we are just focusing on becoming better softball players, and not so much on the postseason right now."
Horner has restored her life to normalcy, as she has reimmersed herself into softball. She now hopes to restore the Northwestern softball program by guiding them into the postseason.