GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNC Greensboro softball’s outfield last season featured a little bit of everything, with powerful bats, speed and strong fielding. With two starters back and plenty of competition back for the other spot, head coach Janelle Breneman believes this a place where the team can improve for this season.
Two All-SoCon Preseason Selections
Jordan Gontram (center) and Makenna Matthijs (left) are the two returning starters in the outfield. Both were selected to this year’s All-SoCon Preseason Teams, with Gontram on the first team and Matthijs on the second. Gontram had the second-best power numbers at the plate for the Spartans last year, ranking in the league third in homers (13), fourth in RBIs (38), sixth in slugging percentage (.560), eighth in walks (21) and ninth in runs (33).
Matthijs made an immediate impact as a freshman, garnering Second Team All-SoCon and All-Freshman honors. She placed among the top hitters in the league: first in sac bunts (18), second in doubles (16), tied for fourth in runs (38), tied for fifth in RBIs (37) and walks (23) and sixth in hits (49).
“We're in a good situation with being able to return two of our starting outfielders,” said Breneman. “They were mainstays in our outfield and batting lineup last year. Gontram has been a two-year starter for us while Makenna came in last year and had a tremendous freshman campaign.”
Filling in Right Field
The open spot in the outfield is in right, where Alexis Overdiep started all but six games. Known for her speed and dependability in the outfield, she was one of four players in the SoCon with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and ranked tied for third in triples (two) and seventh in runs (35).
Kayleigh Willis is the other returning outfielder from last year. Willis registered the fourth-highest batting average (.291) on the team as well as a .351 on-base percentage and .488 slugging percentage.
Joining Willis in the competition at right field is two newcomers, sophomore transfer Katie Stettler and true freshman Kamryn Graves. At Gardner-Webb, Stettler was a Big South Conference All-Freshman Team selection with a .306 batting average to go along with 22 RBIs and 26 runs, but only started at shortstop and as the designated player. Graves was the team MVP at nearby Page High School all four years and All-Guilford County District and All-Metro 4A Conference for three years.
“We have five regular outfielders vying for spots, and I think it will come down to again who's performing well at the plate,” said Breneman. “The main starter in right field during the fall was Stettler. She shows progress each and every day in practice, and her throws have been very accurate. Also back off the DL and feeling healthy once again is Kayleigh. She's potentially one of our biggest offensive threats in the middle of the lineup. For her to be drilling in that outfielder position and feeling healthy is a real asset for us. Our fifth outfielder is Kam, a kid who possesses fast foot speed and a super strong arm and can play any of the outfield positions. Working with Jordan in center has helped her, and her knowledge of playing in the outfield has improved this preseason. She's also done well at the plate, and things are coming together for her.”
-- UNCG –