Softball opens 2019 campaign at Cowtown Classic this weekend

Two-time All-American Erin Sharpe (right) is set to lead Bellevue into the 2019 season.
Two-time All-American Erin Sharpe (right) is set to lead Bellevue into the 2019 season.

2019 NSAA Preseason Poll
2019 NAIA Preseason Coaches' Poll

BELLEVUE, Neb. -- The Bellevue University softball team is set to open the season with five games this weekend as they begin their long journey to a potential 10th NAIA National Tournament appearance.

The Bruins are coming off a season in which they went 32-23 overall and posted a 13-11 mark in NSAA play. They enter the 2019 as second-favorites in the NSAA Preseason Coaches' Poll and receiving votes in the Preseason NAIA Coaches' Poll.

Michala Cimino is back at the helm for her 10th season in charge of the program. She has compiled a 343-153-1 (.691) record in her first nine seasons and has guided the Bruins to a total of 10 conference championships and six NAIA National Tournament Appearances.

Cimino will be assisted by long-time pitching coach Kelly Cheshier, assistant coach Jeanne Scarpello, and volunteer assistant Aimee Supanchick.

Bellevue ventures south to Fort Worth, Texas this weekend as they open the season with five games at the Cowtown Classic. BU plays three games on Friday (Noon-Southwestern Assemblies of God; 4 p.m.-Texas A&M-Texarkana; 6 p.m.-Central Baptist) and two more on Saturday (8 a.m.-Bethel (Kan.); Noon-William Woods).

With 25 games away from the friendly confines of their new home ballpark – Omaha South High School's Roy Smith Field – the Bruins should be comfortably in their identity before their home-opening series against Mayville State on Mar. 23-24.

Key Returners:

Coach Cimino highlighted a pair of players which she identified as key returners to this year's club in senior third baseman/pitcher Erin Sharpe and sophomore outfielder Grace Glotfelty.

Sharpe, a two-time first team NAIA and NFCA All-American, returns to anchor the batting order. Through three seasons she's put up a .371/.448/.751 line with 98 extra-base hits (53 home runs) and 167 RBI. Additionally, in the circle she has appeared 76 times, making 48 starts, and pitched to a 38-16 record with three saves, a 2.14 ERA, and 283 strikeouts in 343.0 innings.

Glotfelty earned first team all-NSAA and Gold Glove honors as a rookie in 2018. She slashed .400/.445/.647 with 26 extra-base hits and 37 RBI.

Impact Newcomers:

Two newcomers are expected to offer impact contributions and both are junior college transfers in right-hander Brieanna Brock (Iowa Western CC) and right-hander Monique Ashley (Seward County CC).

Brock was a two-time all-Region selection for the Reivers and earned honorable mention All-American honors. She posted an 18-4 record and 3.30 ERA while pacing the team with 130 strikeouts in 2018.

Ashley was an All-American selection at Seward County CC and twice earned all-Jayhawks conference honors. She finished the 2018 campaign with a 27-8 record, two saves, 310 strikeouts, and 1.84 ERA.

Coach's Quote:

"As we enter this season I'm excited because it's probably the most depth that we've had in my 10 seasons here. Our focus and purpose has been good and our aim is to make a deep run into the postseason come May."