The Flying Dutch will be seeking to maintain the momentum of back-to-back 20-win seasons. In her first season as coach, Mary Vande Hoef guided the Flying Dutch to a second place finish in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and overall 25-15-1 record.
The 2012 pre-season roster of 20 players includes eight returning letterwinners. There are 12 freshmen, two sophomores, four juniors and two seniors.
Co-captains of the team are seniors Stephanie Faber of Byron Center (South Christian HS) and Brooke Nienhuis of Zeeland (Zeeland West HS).
Returning All-MIAA honorees include outfielder Stephanie Faber and sophomore third baseman Emma Page of Portage (Portage Central HS).
Other returning letterwinners include junior Laura Tjepkema of Dorr (South Christian HS), junior Kristin Higgs of Sturgis (Sturgis HS), junior Molly Collins of Houghton Lake (Houghton Lake HS), and sophomore Amber Born of Galesburg (Galesburg-Augusta HS). Higgs and Tjepkma each batted .392.
An early challenge will be replacing a graduated pitching staff that accounted for all of the team's victories last year. The Flying Dutch should again be a fun team to watch when they put players on the bases. Last year the team successfully stole a school-record 90 of 105 stolen base attempts to rank 22nd nationally in NCAA Division III.
The Flying Dutch will get an early start on the season when they play in an indoor tournament in late February hosted by Finlandia University at the Superior Dome in Marquette, Mich. The annual spring break trip will take the Flying Dutch to Florida for a weeklong series of games in March.
Hope will play its home games in the modern Wolters Softball Stadium, named in honor of former Coach Karla Wolters and her husband Tom.