The Flying Dutch will be seeking to repeat as champions of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) with a blend of returning veterans and players new to the team.
A year ago the Flying Dutch captured their first MIAA championship in a decade and posted a 2-2 record in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Coach Karla Wolters' Flying Dutch have won 20 or more games in 11 of the last 12 seasons, including a school-record 32 in 2006. Entering the 2007 season, Wolters ranks fourth all-time among the winningest NCAA Division III softball coaches. The team's second victory this season will be Wolters' 600th over 28 seasons.
The pre-season roster includes 10 returning letterwinners. There are no seniors on this year's team. There are nine freshmen, three sophomores and nine juniors.
A major challenge will be replacing graduated pitchers Kelsey Guisbert and Becky Whitman who combined to hurl 54 of Hope's 59 victories the past two seasons.
The returning players are led by junior catcher Kylee Brouwer of Hudsonville, Mich. (Hudsonville HS) who a year ago was named a Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III All-American. She led the team in batting (.448), hit (64), runs scored (48), and triples (5). She struck out only nine times in 163 at-bats. Behind the plate she guided a pitching staff that posted a 1.97 earned run average. Brouwer is already Hope's career leader for triples (11).
Junior outfielder Jessica Regnerus of Hudsonville, Mich. (Hudsonville HS) was voted the MIAA's most valuable offensive player in 2006. A two-time All-Region honoree, Regnerus batted .456 in league games and .415 over the entire season.
Co-captains of the team are Brouwer and junior outfielder Laura Tanouye of Darien, Ill. (Hinsdale South HS).
Other returning letterwinners include junior outfielder Angie Randall of Big Rapids, Mich. (Big Rapids HS), junior shortstop Casey Feltner of Clarkston, Mich. (Holly HS), sophomore pitcher Megan VanderMaas of Hudsonville, Mich. (Hudsonville HS), junior third baseman Katie Immink of Hudsonville, Mich. (Hudsonville HS), junior second baseman Becca Baker of Lafayette, Colo. (Centaurus HS), sophomore first baseman Kelli Duimstra of Hudsonville, Mich. (Hudsonville HS), and junior catcher Erika Guijarro of Los Angeles, Calif. (Marshall HS).
The Flying Dutch will make their annual trip to Florida to play up to 12 games between March 17-22. The home opener will be Saturday, March 31 against Kalamazoo