The Lawrence University Softball team started the 2003 season in Florida this year, hoping to pick up where they left off last season. The Vikings, the reigning Northern Division champs, began their campaign to repeat with a 4-4-1 record in Florida.The Vikings are trying to repeat as Northern Division champions for the second time in the last five years. They repeated in 1998 and 1999 as well.
The Vikings lost senior stars Kianna Neal and Erica White to graduation, but have returned a good portion of their roster from last year and are ready to strike again.
The Vikings return their two top pitchers from a year ago. Senior Amy Varda, who suffered an injury and lost an eye, returns for the Vikings, and will see time in the pitcher slot.
Lauren Kost, the freshman phenom from a year ago, is back for her sophomore season, and is ready to continue to thrive as pitcher for LU.
The Vikings also return several good hitters. Most important is shortstop Jenny Burris, who was the Northern Division Player of the Year for the Vikings last season. Burris led the Vikings in nearly every offensive category. She was named first team all-region, and is one of the top players in the entire country.
Shannon Arndt also returns for her third season for the Vikings. Arndt finished second in stolen bases for the Vikings last season with 11. Only Burris had more.
Loni Philbrick-Linzmeyer will have to take over for White behind the plate. The freshman from Green Bay East will have big shoes to fill.
With the tutelage of MWC Coach of the Year Kim Tatro, and with players like Burris and Kost, the Vikings are poised to strike the top again. They will face stiff competition from the likes of St. Norbert and Lake Forest, who in the preseason poll was ranked second nationally, but if the Vikings if play well they should see their second repeat in five years.
The Vikings open the season at home tomorrow against UW-Oshkosh. The game is at 1:00 p.m.