The Hope College softball team hopes to sustain its tradition of excellence with a new approach to their season.

Veteran coach Karla Wolters has scheduled a non-league doubleheader before the Flying Dutch take their annual spring break trip to Florida. Weather permitting, the Dutch will play a doubleheader at Aquinas on Tuesday, March 13. Then it will be off to Florida for nine games between March 17-22. The regular season will begin Saturday, March 31 with a tournament at Illinois Wesleyan University and MIAA conference action gets underway with the team's home debut against Adrian on Wednesday, April 4.

The Flying Dutch have been a consistent MIAA contender over the past decade and the 2001 season promises to be no different. The pre-season roster of 18 players includes 13 returning letterwinners of which there are four seniors.

In 2000, for the seventh consecutive year, the Flying Dutch surpassed 20 victories, finishing second in the MIAA standings and ending 21-16 overall.

Coach Wolters begins her 14th season at the helm of the Flying Dutch who are 289-165 during that time. In 22 seasons of collegiate coaching, Wolters' teams at Calvin and Hope have compiled a 458-243 record ranking her among the top ten active NCAA Division III coaches.

The team returns four players who achieved All-MIAA honors last spring. Senior catcher Carrie Scott of Centreville (Centreville HS) and senior pitcher Kim Grotenhuis of Hamilton (Hamilton HS) are two-time All-MIAA first team honorees. Senior outfielder/first baseman Angie Ciesielski of Linden (Linden HS) is a two-time All-MIAA second team player while freshman outfielder Kathi Grotenhuis of Hamilton (Hamilton HS) received second team recognition in her first collegiate season.

Kim Grotenhuis and Scott also received all-district recognition last spring and in 1999 Scott was named a Division III All-American. Grotenhuis tied a single season Hope record for pitching victories (16), threw two no-hitters and set a record for the lowest earned run average for a season (0.96). She has a collegiate lifetime pitching record of 35-17 and with a career 1.64 earned run average is in position to challenge the Hope career mark of 1.68 set by Nick Mannes (1992-95). Scott already owns the Hope career record for home runs (13). She hit eight homers in 2000 en route to tying the Hope single season mark for total bases (70). She is a career .379 hitter and is on track to challenge Hope career marks for RBIs (65 vs. record of 83) and total bases (159/228).

Other returning letterwinners include sophomore pitcher Andrea Adams of Fairgrove (Akron-Fairgrove HS), sophomore shortstop/third baseman Jen Boersma of Dorr (GR South Christian HS), sophomore catcher Angela Bunker of Muskegon (Mona Shores HS), sophomore first baseman Julia Eagan of Summit, N.J. (new Providence HS), senior second baseman Tobi Hill of Portage (Portage Central HS), sophomore outfielder Karen Kuhl of Chelsea (Chelsea HS), junior outfielder Rose Owens of Shelby (Shelby HS), sophomore outfielder Kristi Ridge of Elk Rapids (Elk Rapids HS), and junior second baseman Milly Kruzel VanderMeulen of Hamilton (Hopkins HS).

Freshman prospects include shortstop/catcher Kelly Kraft of Brown City (Brown City HS), shortstop Allison Miller of Hopkins (Hopkins HS), third baseman/catcher Erin Riley of Lockport, Ill. (Chicago Christian HS) and second baseman/outfielder Susan Taylor of Bath (Bath HS). Junior Anne Wagnild of Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins HS) is playing Hope sports for the first time and will be the team's third pitcher and see action at third base.