Spring Athletes to Watch

March 7, 2013 | 11 a.m.

Sports | Jacob Ruff for The Clarion

JAKE HANZALIK, Freshman

Baseball

Spring Athletes to Watch

Photo for The Clarion courtesy of BU Sports Information.

When Bethel’s baseball team took the field for the season opener, freshman Jake Hanzalik stepped onto the mound for the first time as a Royal to try to start the season – and his collegiate career – with a victory. He succeeded on both counts. Hanzalik held Northwestern to just three hits and no runs in six innings of work, finishing with three strikeouts, one walk and a win. Demonstrating poise beyond his years, Hanzalik calmly defused threats posed by the Eagles like an established veteran. “He stepped into a difficult spot as a freshman starting the first game of the year, but there’s no way you would ever guess he’s a freshman based on his performance,” said sophomore shortstop Nik Anderson. “Even when he gets into a slight jam, he gets himself out of it with ease. The kid’s an absolute phenom.” Showing that his first start was no fluke, Hanzalik took the mound last Tuesday against UW-Stout and posted four strikeouts over six innings to earn his second win. With a wicked windup that features his signature leg kick and a fastball reported to have topped out at 91 mph in the season debut, count on Hanzalik to continue to baffle batters all season.

COURTNEY FREGEAU, Junior

Women's track and field

Spring Athletes to Watch

Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Carl Schmuland/BU Sports Information

For track athletes whose season begins in early January, studying abroad over interim is usually out of the question. Limitations, however, ought not be associated with Courtney Fregeau. After all, the junior sprinter has refused to limit herself to any one event. Over her collegiate career, Fregeau has run in 60-, 200- and 400-meter individual races and has been a part of five relay teams that hold Bethel records. While roaming around Europe over J-Term, Fregeau and teammate Ashley Quick worked out in whatever way they could – running hills, interval training and the like – when most people would have used the trip as a vacation from training. To head coach Andrew Rock, such discipline is what makes Fregeau such a sound all-around runner. “Courtney is talented, but it’s not enough for her to just be talented,” explained Rock. “She works really hard to develop that talent.” The hard work is paying dividends all over the track. In Bethel’s invitational meet, Fregeau recorded a second place finish in the 200-meter and another in a photo-finish 4x400 meter relay. She finished first among all other Division III competitors in the 400-meter at the University of Minnesota’s Snowshoe Open following her first place performance in the same event at Grinnell College, where her time of 60.46 seconds fell just 1.44 seconds shy of Bethel’s record. Not bad, considering her late start to the season. As the year goes on, Fregeau’s potential in her multitude of events is as one might expect: limitless.

KAL SORENSEN, Sophomore

Softball

Spring Athletes to Watch

Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Carl Schmuland/BU Sports Information

The Royals softball team will have experience on its side this season with 16 returning players on the roster. Among the talented bunch of returners for the Royals is Kal Sorensen, one of only five freshmen in the conference named to the MIAC All-Conference team last year. In her impressive first season, Sorensen started all but two games while batting .311 and leading the team with 23 RBIs. The first baseman also showed skill with the glove, fielding at an efficient clip of .945 for the year. Head coach Rod Radcliffe was impressed by Sorensen in 2012 and looks for her to build on her successes this season. “Kal is a very balanced player; she’s one of our best hitters and has one of the stronger arms on our team,” said Radcliffe, adding that Sorensen has been working hard to “improve her fielding consistency and retool her swing to hit for a higher average.” Radcliffe praised Sorensen’s well-rounded game, saying, “You could see Kal anywhere in the infield because she’s versatile enough to play in any spot in the case of injuries.” Wherever Sorensen is found on the diamond this season, her impact is sure to be felt in all aspects of the game.

STEPH BROWN, Senior

Women's tennis

Spring Athletes to Watch

Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Andy Kenutis/BU Sports Information

A spring of change has come to the women’s tennis team this year with the introduction of new head coach Drew Fernelius. Additionally, the return of top singles player Abby Edin bolsters the team’s lineup but bumps the rest of the singles players down a peg. Senior captain Steph Brown has taken this reordering in stride and has been an energizing presence as both a player and leader. Brown set the tone for her team in this season’s early outing against Saint Scholastica, highlighted by a pivotal 6-4, 7-5 singles victory against renowned opponent Alexis Gunderson to help the Royals take down the UMAC powerhouse. “She played incredibly well,” said sophomore teammate Abby Kreklau. “She stayed very focused the whole match and proved that she was a top competitor against a really good opponent.” Playing in the No. 3 singles position after being No. 2 for the majority of 2012 might deject some players, but Brown has a team-first attitude and cares less about rankings than team success. “Beyond her abilities as a player, she’s just such a great leader for our team,” said Kreklau. “Her energy is so contagious. She brings the best out of all of us.”

MATT BERENS, Sophomore

Men's track and field

Spring Athletes to Watch

Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Carl Schmuland/BU Sports Information

Although sophomore Matt Berens is known for his aptitude as a runner, he’s gotten quite good at leaping up the 3000-meter conference rankings as of late. Riding the momentum of a strong cross country season this fall when he qualified for nationals, Berens entered the track season with intentions to improve on his already strong times from last spring. Each meet this year has marked another improved time for Berens, most recently at the Snowshoe Open at the University of Minnesota, where he finished second among all Division III runners in the 3000-meter run with a time of 8:37.91 – a personal best. Berens now finds himself second in the MIAC in the event, and head coach Andrew Rock points to his work ethic as the cause. “He’s an incredibly hard worker,” said Rock. “He puts in a lot of miles when nobody else is around and trains when nobody else is willing to do extra work.” Making consistent improvements is customary for Berens, so don’t expect him to slow down when he’s so close to the conference’s top spot. “He’s got a shot to win it,” Rock said. “He’s had a great start, but I think you’re going to see him continue to improve.”

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