Bulldog softball kicks off season

Bulldogs open their season with Music City invitational

A lot has changed for Bulldog softball since they last played in May of last year. 

One of the biggest changes for the team is the loss of their coach of five seasons, Kristin Janes and the hiring of coach Jake Schumann as her replacement. 

Over the five years with Janes, the Bulldogs went 79-134, including a 19-32 season before her departure. Now, the Bulldogs are looking to turn a new page with Schumann at the helm. 

Schumann’s track record has varied through the levels of NCAA divisions. He’s served as a head coach at Florida International, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas A&M Kingsville and Carl Albert State College. He’s also spent time on the coaching staffs of Iowa softball and Ole Miss softball. 

Coach Schumann knows what it takes to build a program and turn a program around. 

“It’s all about players buying in,” Schumann said. “With the players that we have currently, it’s how fast they buy in and how fast they accept what we’re doing. And then there’s recruiting. Recruiting is how you build programs. That’s that’s the plan. That’s what I’ve done everywhere I’ve ever been. I’ve turned around three different programs. So at a junior college level, the DII level and the DI level.”

Schumann understands that building the Bulldog softball program is “not going to happen overnight.”

Alongside the coaching change, Bulldog softball bid farewell to the seniors from last year while welcoming six freshmen and two transfers.

The seniors who are no longer with the Bulldogs are outfielder Paige Kortz and catcher Ali Magiera. The new freshmen for the Bulldogs are utility player Abby Meyer, midfielder Jadyn Joseph, outfielder Riley Kish, catcher Emily Killion, pitcher Sophie Wisniski, pitcher Catherine O’Donohue. Joining the Bulldogs through the transfer portal are junior pitcher Mauri Viness and junior pitcher Aubrie Lafferty. 

Complementing this new and young talent is a veteran anchor of five seniors. The seniors are outfielder Kylie Winkel, outfielder Kaitlyn Orme, midfielder Amara Zukowski, pitcher Kristie Gray, outfielder Evelyn Blood. 

Orme, who is returning after torn labrum surgery, is ready to go for her fifth and final year with the Bulldogs. 

“Some of my expectations are just to have a good final season with my teammates, to win some games and then make a run in the tournament,” Orme said. “That’s what I’m very excited for. I feel like this year we have a different team vibe going on right now.”

Orme is excited for this upcoming year, believing that bringing Schumann in has “brought a new fire to the team.”

The Bulldogs are a long ways away from debuting at home. After their 1-4 start at the Music City Invitational in Tennessee, they still must play in Illinois and Florida then play on the road at Lewis University, Tiffin, Ashland. 

The Bulldogs will have an early rematch in their home debut against Northwood on Wednesday, March 22.