Feb. 11, 2009
Bearcats, Krueger Ready For Opening Day
Bryan Boettcher, Director of Athletic Media Relations
The Northwest Missouri State softball team opens the 2009 season this weekend with a pair of doubleheaders in Edmond, Okla. The Bearcats take on Central Oklahoma Friday before turning to East Central Saturday. Start times both days is 11 a.m.
Northwest returns five starting position players and one starting pitcher from a team that finished 32-22 and earned a berth in the 2008 NCAA tournament. The 32 wins are the fourth-most in program history.
One the returning starters is senior hurler Cola Krueger, who enters 2009 needing 48 strikeouts and 13 wins to become the Bearcats' all-time leader in both categories. She pitched in 75 percent of the team's games last year and will be asked to carry the workload again this season.
Krueger tossed a no-hitter in her first appearance as a Bearcat in 2006. She won her first nine collegiate decisions and was later named the MIAA's Freshman of the Year.
I caught up with Krueger this week to talk about opening weekend and the 2009 season. A transcript of that conversation is listed below:
BB: How are you feeling and how's the arm?
CK: I've come along well and the arm feels good. Our pitchers are trying to build stamina for this week's games so I'm a little tired, but hanging in there.
BB: What are your expectations for your final go-around?
CK: I want to go out with a bang. We have a lot of younger girls this year, but they're going to step up. We've gelled well and that'll help us power through a long season.
BB: What has the team lost from last year and what has it gained?
CK: We lost a lot of leadership with that senior class, but at the same time Megan (Simpson) and I have been here four years. Megan's out right now, but in just being here you can sense her leadership is becoming contagious throughout the young players. This team continues to pull together and that may have been the missing piece from last year.
BB: You and Kelly (Morris) had been staples on the team the last three seasons. How will things be different without her?
CK: Kelly was terrific and we'll miss her, but at the same time Kelsey (Resa) and Nicole (Ackelson) have thrown well and I think it'll help showing teams some new looks from our staff. The conference has seen Kelly and I the last three seasons and now we'll have something else to throw in that should help us be more effective.
BB: How do Kelsey and Nicole compliment your style?
CK: We all have different strengths and different go-to-pitches that we use to get batters out. I have strengths in my curve and rise ball, but teams that start to recognize those pitches will see new arsenals with Kelsey and Nicole.
We three all try to help each other out and we work to fix things that we need to improve on. Our communication has been important to the three of us and I think it'll pay off during the season.
BB: How has the weather cooperated so far?
CK: We spent a lot of time on our field last Thursday and Friday. Yesterday (Tuesday) was gorgeous. Being outside really helps from a pitcher's perspective. You can't push off dirt inside. I think the reps we've gotten on our field will help us get off to a fast start this weekend.
BB: What would make this first weekend a success?
CK: We're young and inexperienced so we need to come out and be mentally tough. These two teams have been outside for more than a month and they're not going to make many mistakes in the field. We have to adjust to the dirt quickly and make the routine plays. If we do the little things and put it all together, we'll be just fine.
East Central will see Krueger and the Bearcats for the first time Friday. Central Oklahoma split a doubleheader with Northwest a year ago. Krueger faced three more than the minimum and allowed one hit to blank the Bronchos 3-0 in the opening game of that series.
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
email@example.com | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468