BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University women's basketball team will look to a young, talented roster to return to the top of the Ohio Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III basketball in 2017-18.
Veteran head coach Cheri Harrer, who is in her 28th season at BW and has compiled a 549-202 career record, returns 10 letterwinners and three starters from last year's squad that posted a 21-5 record and a 14-4 mark in the OAC and advanced to the OAC semifinals before losing to Wilmington College.
"Our kids are excited to compete," Harrer said. "Our schedule is challenging but our kids have done an excellent job preparing. We will stay focused on getting better each day and see where that takes us."
BW returns a strong backcourt in senior Academic All-OAC guard Katie Smith (Fairview Park/Fairview), junior All-OAC guard Hannah Fecht (Hilliard/Davidson) and sophomore guard Kasey Hughes (Springboro) who all saw significant time as starters a season ago. Fecht appeared in all 26 games, making 12 starts, and posted career-high numbers in points per game (9.7) and rebounds per game (5.6), good enough for third and second on the team, respectively. The junior also led the team in three-point shooting percentage (45.4), which is the third-highest percentage of all returning Division III women's basketball players. Smith also appeared in all 26 games, making 21 starts, and averaged 5.3 points per game while Hughes appeared in 20 games, made 19 starts and averaged 3.6 points per game.
Adding depth at the guard position will be junior guards Academic All-OAC MacKenzi Matthews (North Royalton) and Hailey Grant (North Royalton/St. Joseph Academy) and sophomores Tiffany Bentler (North Canton/Hoover), Riley Schill (Sheffield Lake/Elyria Catholic) and Kara Marshall (Copley/Archbishop Hoban). Matthews, Bentler, Schill and Marshall all appeared in over 20 games off the bench while Grant saw limited action.
Transfer sophomore guard/forward Mary Schentur (Broadview Heights/Brecksville-Broadview Heights) and freshmen guards Alayna Harstine (New Philadelphia), Gabby Garrett (Columbus/Bishop Watterson), Becca Tacchite (Valley City/Columbia) and Jenna Strayer (Bellevue) all join the Yellow Jackets for their first season and will look to earn their fair share of playing time in the backcourt.
After graduating two starting forwards in the spring, some new faces will look to make an immediate impact in the paint this season. Senior forward Megan Schubert (Defiance/Ayersville) and junior Academic All-OAC forward Rachel Womeldorf (Lewis Center/Olentangy) have the most experience up front after appearing in 20-plus games off the bench last season and featured the top two field goal percentages on the team at 56.0 and 50.9 percent, respectively.
Junior Academic All-OAC forward Courtnay Cruise (Wooster/Triway), junior forward Courtney Basinger (Akron/Coventry) and sophomore forward Autumn Richards (Northfield/Nordonia) along with freshman forward Sydney Diedrich (Chardon/Gilmour Academy) will all compete for time in the paint this season.
BW will open up the 2017-18 campaign by hosting St. Vincent (Pa.) College for a non-conference game on Wednesday, Nov. 15, inside Ursprung Gymnasium. OAC action opens up at home on Wednesday, Nov. 29, when the Yellow Jackets host Heidelberg University.