TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology softball team will kick off the 2014 season with an eight-game slate in Clermont, Fla., beginning on March 3.
Eleventh-year coach Brian Shearer and the Fightin’ Engineers will look to build upon last season’s campaign, when RHIT finished the year 12-24 overall and 4-12 in HCAC play.
Rose-Hulman was picked to finish eighth in the 2014 HCAC Coaches Poll, which listed Manchester University as a narrow preseason favorite.
The Engineers return eight starters and 12 letter winners from last year’s campaign, including all-conference honorees Carly Heibel (honorable mention) and Allison Bowman (second team).
Heibel (Fort Wayne, Ind./Lakewood Park Christian), a junior shortstop and reserve pitcher, hit .381 with 45 hits, 19 RBI, six doubles and four home runs for the Engineers in 2013. She also added a 3-6 mark in the circle, striking out 28 batters in 13 appearances.
Bowman (Fort Wayne, Ind./R Nelson Snider), a senior catcher, hit .280 with 30 hits, 18 RBI, three doubles and a home run. Behind the plate, she finished the year with a .987 fielding percentage, throwing out 16 of 46 runners on the base paths.
The Engineers also bring three freshmen into the 2014 season: Ellissa Eckert (Sugar Grove, Ill./Kaneland), LeAnne Johnson (West Alexandria, Ohio/Twin Valley) and Janel Lake (Okawville, Ill./Okawville).
Rose-Hulman will open the 2014 campaign at the National Training Center in Clermont against Grove City (Pa.) March 3 in a 5 p.m. contest, followed by a 7 p.m. matchup versus Regis (Mass.). During their five-day trip, the Engineers will also take on Saint Vincent (Pa.), Houghton (N.Y.), Methodist (N.C.), Widener (Pa.), Thiel (Pa.), and Misericordia (Pa.).
RHIT will play three road doubleheaders at Defiance (March 22), at Bluffton (March 29) and at Spalding (March 30) before opening its home slate with a doubleheader against Greenville April 2.
Other home doubleheaders include Transylvania (April 5), Blackburn (April 6), Hanover (April 13), Anderson (April 15), Webster (April 24) and Manchester (April 26).
The HCAC tournament will take place May 2-3, with the location set at the No. 1 seed.