CHARLESTON, S.C. - Six days away from Opening Day for the Charleston Southern softball team as the Buccaneers continue their preparations for the opening Wingate by Wyndham Invitational hosted at the CSU Softball Field. Head Coach Shane Winkler looks forward to seeing how his young infield grows and adapts to the collegiate game over the tournament season.
Things to Watch from the Infielders
New Faces Around the Field
The 2018 CSU infield will feature a variety of new faces all around. Gone are stalwarts Stephanie Bergmann, Stevi Johnson, Brittany McPherson, and Lexie Vanada. The Bucs do return a veteran presence in sophomores Summer Moore and Mallory Kasinger, junior Destini Ewing, and senior Laina Holmgren. The new faces will play prominently in the CSU lineup with Sarah Brown, Madison Koger (see below), and Taylor Gleason all expected to see time in the infield in 2018. Brown was a standout member of the three-time defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Championship team and earned All-League honors multiple seasons in high school. Gleason brings speed to the lineup after running cross country and track at May River High School, to go with earning All-State recognition in her junior and senior season on the softball team.
Koger ready for the shortstop role
For the first time since the 2014 championship run, CSU will have a new shortstop manning the middle of the infield this season as freshman Madison Koger looks ready to take on the role vacated by alum Stephanie Bergmann. Bergmann finished her CSU career sixth all-time with 333 assists while taking a vital role in the CSU defensive scheme. Koger will look to continue the trend of the Bucs' strong infield play up the middle this season as a true freshman. A Fairfield, Ohio native, Koger was a three-time All-Conference and All-League selection, earning Offensive Player of the Year honors over her final three seasons at Fairfield High School and the Ohio Hawks club team. She will be put to the test early taking over a leadership role that returns only three regulars to the lineup in 2018.
Ewing's versatility given an opportunity to shine
Destini Ewing's ability to line up in multiple positions across the infield will be a key aspect to the early portion of the 2018 season for the Bucs. The Columbus, Ohio native has earned 30 starts and lined up in 52 games over her first two seasons with the Bucs, seeing time at both second base and shortstop for CSU during the span. A two-time All-OCC selection in high school, her bat came to life early last season with her first collegiate home runs coming against S.C. State. Ewing's ability to play multiple positions will be key early in the year as the Buccaneers continue to look for a consistent lineup in the infield.
Senior Profile – Laina Holmgren
Laina Holmgren returns for her second season with the Buccaneers after transferring to CSU following her sophomore season. Holmgren started her collegiate career at Boise State, where the Eugene, Ore. native appeared primarily as a pinch-hitter with the Broncos. She lined up in 20 games last season, earning two starts with the Bucs. She reprised her role as a pinch-hitter and also saw time as a runner in head coach Shane Winkler's offensive scheme in 2017. She finished the season with a .381 on-base percentage, adding an RBI single against S.C. State.
"Our infield play is going to be key for us this season. Infield play is so important and there are so many things we took for granted over the last four seasons because we basically had four-year starters throughout the entire infield. This season, we have a brand-new infield and a lot of young players. The good thing about this though is that it has given us the opportunity to teach them the basics, the fundamentals, and start from square one." – Winkler on the youth lining up around the diamond.
"We have a lot more athleticism around the infield than we have ever had. Now we just have to start gaining experience as soon as we can. You'll be able to see right away that the kids have the talent to be really, really good once they get acclimated to the Division I level. It's just a matter of how quick they decide not to be freshmen." – Winkler on the talent-level of his infielders in 2018.
171 – Games played by former seniors Stevi Johnson, Stephanie Bergmann, and Brittany McPherson among the infielders in the 2017 season.