EMU Madeira Beach Invitational Tournament Central
ROCHESTER, Mich. – The Oakland softball team opens the 2017 campaign at the EMU Madeira Beach Spring Invitational in Madeira Beach, Fla. The Golden Grizzlies play a doubleheader against Quinnipiac on Friday, Feb. 17 at 9 a.m. followed by Boston at 11:30 a.m. at the Softball Complex.
On Saturday, Feb. 18, the Golden Grizzlies continue invitational play with a doubleheader against Villanova at 2 p.m. and North Dakota at 4:30 p.m.
Oakland concludes competition with a game against Massachusetts on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 9 a.m.
PRESEASON HORIZON LEAGUE POLL: Oakland was picked to finish fifth in the 2017 Horizon League Softball Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league's nine head coaches. The Golden Grizzlies received 35 points while UIC was picked to finish first with 62 points and seven first place votes
MILLER LEADS YOUNG GROUP OF RETURNERS: Oakland returns eight starters led by 2016 All-Freshman Team selection Brittney Miller who enters her sophomore campaign after leading the team and ranking ninth in the league in batting (.360) and seventh in on-base percentage (.467) last season. She also led the team in RBI (25) and doubles (9) and first career home run was a grand slam propelling Oakland to a win over Ava Maria (2/24).
IN THE CIRCLE: Oakland returns one of the most talented pitching staffs in the Horizon League which posted a league-best ERA (2.15) while ranking second in opposing batting average (.247) in conference-only statistics.
Junior and 2016 All-League Second-Team selection Haley Zemmer returns after tossing 16 complete games to rank third in ERA (2.15) and strikeouts (96), fourth in innings pitched (146.1) and sixth in league opposing batting average (.261) last season. She tossed a one-hit complete game shutout with nine strikeouts losing her no-hit bid with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning against YSU (Apr. 1).
After sitting out the 2016 season due to a medical condition, senior Erin Kownacki also returns to circle. In 2015, Kownacki was a named All-League First-Team, All-Tournament Team and received the Top Pitcher Award helping Oakland to the program’s first Horizon League title and automatic NCAA berth. During the 2016 fall season, Kownacki made a successful debut tossing a complete game with two strikeouts in a win over U-M Dearborn.
Kaley Waalkes also returns after starting in 13 games with 17 appearances and 45 strikeouts.
NEW FACES: Oakland has added six newcomers to the squad led by Rachel Zerona who led the team in batting (.778) and hits (7) with five runs and for RBI in the fall along with Jamie Squires who hit .444 with four hits, four runs and three RBI.