2012 Softball Preview: Outfielders
Feb. 7, 2012
SEATTLE - The 2012 Husky outfield will showcase seniors Kimi Pohlman and Nikia Williams, who both were named to the top 50 "Watch List" for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. Seniors Taylor Smith and Jenna Clifton and sophomores Whitney Jones and Victoria Hayward will give the Huskies an experienced outfield and a solid group of leaders. Sophomore Marki Creger-Zier and junior Jerrin Fa'asua also figure to see time in the outfield.
Senior Kimi Pohlman (Sammamish, Wash.) is a two-time First-Team All-Pac-10 and three-time All-Pacific Region honoree. She started in 52 of 53 games in 2011 and had the team highest overall at-bats (183), runs scored (57), hits (79) and batting average (.432), which ranks sixth in the Husky single-season record book.
"Our outfield is anchored by Kimi Pohlman. She's the obvious front runner for the centerfield spot, although depending on which team we are facing, she could suit us best at either corner spot, having played all three outfield positions with skill and precision over the past three seasons. We expect her to be an All-American this year."
Smith and Williams both suffered injuries in the 2011 season but are fully healthy and looking to use their big bats to make huge contributions to the 2012 team.
Before her injury last season, Smith (Olympia, Wash.) played in 27 games making 24 starts. She hit a team-best .444 with 26 runs, 32 hits, sixth doubles, 10 home runs and 32 RBI. Her slugging percentage was .944 and on base percentage was .494. She also drew seven walks and stole three bases.
A two-time All-American, Williams (Mission Viejo, Calif.), hit fourth on the team playing and starting in 53 games last year with a .364 average. She had 44 runs, 58 hits, a team-high 17 doubles and 14 home runs and 56 RBIs. Williams moved to first base for the Dawgs due to the injury to Hooch Fagaly. She is slated to see most of her time this year in the outfield or as the designated player.
"Taylor and Nikia will find their way into the lineup due to their powerful offensive abilities, but both cannot be in the designated hitter role at the same time, so both will make their way into the lineup and into our outfield spots on a regular basis," said Tarr.
From Glendale, Ariz., Clifton has played outfield and pitched for the Huskies in her three seasons. In 2011, she made 11 starts on defense and played 24 games. She had 11 runs, eight hits and seven RBIs.
"Jenna has competed for time in left field for three years. She has plus power at the plate. She provides UW with depth in the outfield and in the circle," Tarr said.
Both Jones (Upland, Calif.) and Hayward (Mountain View, Calif.) had many breakout performances for the Huskies in 2011. Hayward hit .284 in her rookie campaign and spent time in the outfield and at first base. Jones also provides depth in the outfield and in the circle.
"Jones and Hayward can play all three positions in the outfield and both have plus arms and great range," said Tarr. "Their offense will dictate how much they play, and they are both very capable of being everyday players in our outfield."
There is just one freshman outfielder competing for time in 2012 in local product Bellsuci (Anacortes, Wash.). She played club ball with the Washington Sidewinders. In 2009, she was her HS batting champion, setting the school records for most hits (57) and stolen bases (36) in a season. She hit .558 her senior year and earned all-state, all-conference and all-area honors throughout her time at AHS.
"Tara is the lone newcomer to the outfield," said Tarr. "She's learning how to play 'Husky Softball' with her voice and against the type of offenses we face at this level. She has great speed and above average arm strength."
Creger-Zier (Steilacoom, Wash.) and Fa'asua (Oceanside, Calif.) played in the infield and outfield last year when needed and could be seen in both spots again this year.
The sophomore, Creger-Zier, had a solid freshman campaign, batting .321 with 21 runs and four stolen bases before she was sidelined with an injury. Fa'asua, a junior, hit .257 with 14 runs and 19 RBIs.
"Marki and Jerrin are competing for time in our outfield as well as the infield," Tarr said. "They are both very aggressive utility players who have transitioned nicely into the mix of our existing outfield. We definitely have our share of depth out here and it will be a very nice competitive season for all players contending for time in the grass."