Three straight 40-win seasons, two appearances in the eight-team NCAA Championship Tournament and back-to-back Great Lakes Regional titles place FSU among the nation's elite programs.
With 15 returning letterwinners on the 2000 squad, Ferris will attempt to reload for another run at the elusive NCAA Championship.
Pitching will be one of the team's strengths with all five members of the 1999 staff returning after ranking 20th in the nation in earned run average (1.25). A pair of seniors, Nadine Crowl and Brandy Coe, provide Becker with a formidable one-two punch.
Crowl, a credible pre-season All-America candidate, holds a virtual monopoly on the FSU record book for pitching statistics. Entering her final season, she holds career records for wins (54), strikeouts (344), shutouts (16) and complete games (69), and has tied team records for consecutive scoreless innings (41.0) and consecutive wins (8). In 1999, the Coleman, Mich., native led FSU in wins (17), strikeouts (165) and innings pitched (174), and was tied for 18th nationally in ERA (0.93) while ranking 24th in strikeouts per seven innings (6.6).
Coe, during her first season with FSU after transferring from Grand Rapids Community College, finished second on the team in wins (16), strikeouts (112) and innings pitched (162.1). In addition to earning victories in the GLIAC Tournament and Great Lakes Regional Championship games, Coe was tied for 41st in the nation in ERA (1.29).
The remainder of the pitching staff junior Melissa Carrick, junior Teresa Sutermeister and sophomore Jennifer Colvin compiled impressive stats as well. Carrick was 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA, Sutermeister finished 8-1 with a 1.94 ERA and Colvin was 3-0 with a 0.88 ERA.
Junior Anne Koltvedt will once again be relied upon to manage the pitching staff from behind the plate. The Mason, Mich., native started all 64 games last season at catcher and threw out an impressive 33.3 percent of runners attempting to steal. Koltvedt also batted a respectable .279 and improved her play late in the year, earning All-Tournament Team honors at the Great Lakes Regional. Capable backup support will be provided by junior Amber Howe.
At first base, Becker has the luxury of choices. Crowl, a career .343 hitter, plays first when she's not on the mound. When Crowl's pitching, junior Mila Prieur has provided steady defense and possessed the second-highest fielding percentage (.981) on the team in 1999. Senior Anne Bentley, the Bulldogs' starting second baseman, can also play first if needed after she split time between first and second as a sophomore.
The middle infield is anchored by a pair of seniors, Bentley and Kris St. Andre. Bentley returns for her third season as the squad's leadoff hitter. She enters the season with a .307 career average and, with 33 career doubles, has a shot at breaking the school record (41). St. Andre, a transfer from Grand Rapids Community, batted .287 in 48 games at Ferris during the 1999 season.
Quality middle infielders competing for playing time include sophomores Theresa Coty, Tiffany Cline and Kimberly Swanson. Coty impressed FSU fans with her defense at shortstop in 29 games while Cline and Swanson provide depth at second base.
The third base job is now senior captain Cathy Boichot's to lose after three years of splitting time at third base with graduated senior Jenny Jacobs. Boichot batted a career-high .267 during the 1999 season. Howe, after seeing limited action at third last year, will serve as a backup.
The largest voids to be filled will be in the outfield where Becker loses a pair of four-year starters in two-time All-American Jody Gifford and three-time All-GLIAC honorable mention selection Casey Munger. The only returning starter is senior right fielder Jaymee Kent. In 1999, the Grand Rapids Community College transfer completed a successful first season with FSU after finishing first on the team in doubles (15), second in batting average (.342) and tied for the lead in runs scored (45).
While expectations continue to rise for the Ferris softball program, coach Becker and the team realize what it takes to return to the NCAA Championships.
"When I started here, we needed to beat teams to get to where we wanted to be (as a program)," said Becker. "Now, we need to win to stay where we are."