Baseball, softball seasons start; new D-I opponents

Faith Moldan

Faith Moldan

Although the New Year has come and gone, new beginnings abound with the men’s baseball team and women’s softball.

With first-year coach Reggie Christiansen at the helm, the men’s baseball team looks to face a challenging schedule against many Division I opponents. Christiansen, a graduate of Menlo College in Atherton, Calif, served as head coach for his alma mater during the 2002 season.

Christiansen is happy to be at SDSU.

“It’s a pleasure to work with these guys,” he said.

Returning to the lineup for the Jackrabbits are senior Greg Geary at first base, senior Tony Lane at second, sophomore Chris Iverson at shortstop, junior Kyle Stysma catching, and senior Pat Farrell in left field. Also returning are pitchers Francisco Torres, Josh Elliot and Tigh Surdez.

Torres, from Caracas, Venezuela, will be one of the top starters along with Elliot.

The Jacks will look to four players, Geary, Surdez, Iverson and senior transfer Tyson Bothof for leadership. Geary is on pace to break offensive records.

“He put up good numbers and his work ethic is great,” Christiansen said.

Bothof brings experience as a D-I player at Kansas. Christiansen credits Surdez as being one of the hardest workers on the team as well as Iverson.

“He’s not a real vocal leader, but he works hard,” Christiansen said of Iverson.

SDSU had an overall record of 12-36 last season and begins this season with a four-game stint at Kansas.

“We’re focusing on Kansas and not looking ahead. If we look ahead we’ll lose focus,” Christiansen said.

The “home” games against Minnesota and Creighton (Neb.) will be played at the Sioux Falls Stadium.

The 2006-2007 schedule will have more D-I schools coming to Brookings.

“Our team is really young, but I feel good about our core guys,” he said. “The assistant coaches, Chris Smart and Matt Duncan, work extremely hard to help the players too.”

The softball team continues under the instruction of head coach Shane Bouman, who is in his third year as coach.

Leading the way are seniors Ashley Kalina, Bobbie Jo Mitchell and Lindsay Reiter. In their third season are juniors Ali Adair, Jordan Bottorff and Amy Wittgenstein.

“They’re comfortable with the way things are run,” Bouman said.

Rounding out the team are three junior college transfers from Arizona: Tessie Winterton, Chris Pesquiera and Kassy Hernandez.

Coach Bouman expects freshmen Kim Westendorf and Kiley Schwedhelm to learn the system step in and make an impact.

“We have 16 girls on the team. I expect each one to lead at a certain point,” Bouman said. “They have too.”

The softball season will start with three tournaments.

“They are a great opportunity to get in some quality games and play quality competition,” Bouman said.

They face teams rated in the top 10 of both divisions, such as South Carolina, Iowa, Creighton, and Drake.

“We have to hustle all the time, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be played,” Bouman said. “Put baseball in fast-forward.”

Bouman encourages fans to come to games. The first home game is March 15 against Augustana at 3 p.m.

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