The Wolfpacker

March 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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the second straight year, and classmate Jade Hennig pitched in 10 games last year, but the Red and White will have a freshman at the top of the rotation in Emily Weiman. "We're excited about Emily Weiman coming in and doing some things," Navas said. "Our second pitcher has been Peeler, and she has done a great job for us. We'll just pitch by committee and make things happen." Handling the pitching staff this year will be another newcomer in sophomore Kirsty Grant, a transfer from Tallahassee Junior College. The native of Ontario, Canada, helped her team place third at the 2011 NJCAA Division I Nationals last spring, and she also suited up for the Canadian Ju- nior National Team this winter at the Inter- national Softball Federation 19-and-under World Championships in South Africa. "She will step right into the lineup," Na- vas said. "She has been pretty much domi- nant for us behind the plate. She handles our pitchers very well and the chemistry Versatile Toni Ann Williford Is Set To Anchor The Pack's Infield this year, including five position players. However, head coach Lisa Navas and her staff will be sending out a group of infielders that has limited starting experience in college. Senior second baseman Toni Ann Williford is the most NC State returns six starters on the softball diamond experienced player, but is new to the infield after spending much of her previous three years at NC State in left field. "Toni Ann was recruited to be an infielder, but we put her in the outfield previously because we needed her bat in the lineup," Navas said. "If some injuries happen and we need to move her to the outfield, she can play there. "She's just a steady player. She's got a good arm, and we threw quite a few people out at the plate last year. When you don't let other things bother you and you just go out and play the game, you're going to be successful, and I think that's what Toni Ann does." Williford enjoys being moved around the diamond and playing wherever her team needs her. She claims no preference between the two positions, although she does admit her experience in the outfield was extremely limited before college. "Moving around mixes it up every now and then," she explained. "It's always exciting to get a new viewpoint on the game. I've been working a lot at second base, but I can always go to the outfield whenever they need me. I'm just ready for anything. "I actually was never an outfielder until I got to college. I've always been a middle infielder. It was a tough adjust- ment. After a while, I got used to it because I practiced hard at it every day; it has become something that I have grown into." The senior from Angier, N.C., broke into the lineup as a freshman, making 17 appearances with four starts in left field. The following year, she made 17 starts and played in 31 games despite a broken big toe suffered during the season. That injury was not going to keep the sophomore from suiting up for the Pack, whom she grew up rooting for alongside of her father and one of her three younger sisters. The left-handed hitting Williford was fully recovered last spring as a junior and enjoyed a breakout campaign. She upped her batting average from .241 to .310, while starting all 48 games she played in. She missed just one contest, led the team with 48 hits and 19 walks and also tallied 11 multi-hit games, which was second best on the squad. "Her dad told me when I recruited her, 'She'll hit .300 for you,'" Navas remembered. "I was just like, 'Yeah, OK,' but she has. She's just consistent. "What a lot of kids don't realize is you have to grow Williford leads all returning players in batting average (.310), games played and started (48), at-bats (155), runs (24), hits (48), doubles (six) and walks (19). PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS 70 ■ THE WOLFPACKER up within the program, and some of them aren't patient enough to go through that and realize their time is going to happen. The opportunity presented itself to Toni Ann, and she was just consistent." — Ryan Tice

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