Softball looks to replace All-American, begins season in Las Vegas

Feb. 09, 2015

Brandon Applehans
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All-American Jessica Belsterling was among four seniors that graduated in the 2014 season. Head coach Scott Peterson now turns to the remaining upperclassmen as well as 12 freshmen to lead his team.

“Seniors graduate and there’s nothing we can change about that,” said Peterson. “Jess was an All-American and we knew for several years that she would be leaving us at some point. We try to prepare for that. I think we have a great recruiting class.”

“You can’t replace a lot of the things Jess did,” he added. “But we have some special players out there.”

Expectations for the head coach are not just to compete in the RMAC, but to also win the league.

“Our expectations are to win the league every year,” said Peterson. “They have been told that since August, when we first started, and our expectations never change.”

The two seniors on the squad this year, Korey Kulpins and Emily Jennings, realize the challenge ahead but look to take the journey in stride.

“The biggest difference is the amount of impact that [last year’s seniors] had consistently throughout the season,” said Kulpins. “Freshmen year has a lot of ups and downs. I think the consistency will lack a bit this year but hopefully we will have a few key players step up and fill those shoes.”

“Jess has huge shoes to fill, but all of the freshmen have to come together and help fill that spot,” said Jennings. “I think we can do it, it will just be tough.”

The team faces off against their first opponent in Las Vegas, where they take on Simon Fraser Feb. 13. Peterson recalled the last meeting between the Mountain Lions and the Vancouver team.

“We know Simon Fraser,” he said. “We played them in 2004. At that time they were the Canadian Olympic team. The coach, who is still the coach, was the Olympic coach back then. He was able to encourage all of the Canadian Olympians to go to school at Simon Fraser.”

Jennings and Kulpins think starting the season off in the largest Division II tournament in the country will be a positive.

“I think it’s good for us to travel,” said Jennings. “We are going to face a lot of tough teams. The first team we play has been nationally ranked multiple times so it’s good for us to get out there and face opponents that we usually don’t play.”

“It will be good for our team because none of us really know where anybody is playing right now,” said Kulpins. “I think the first game will certainly be an eye opener for the freshmen and sophomores to see where they end up playing on the field.”

UCCS opens their home schedule against Adams State University on Feb. 21 at noon and 2 p.m. at Mountain Lion Field.