Newcomers making impact for BG

Paul Barney and Paul Barney

When an athlete plays on a team in which they’ve never played with before, the task of making a quick impact is more often than none their first priority. For softball newcomers Karmen Coffey, Rachel Proehl and Melissa West, making a quick impact is exactly what they have done. Just 25 games into their inaugural season, Coffey, Proehl and West are making their presence known early and often. Karmen Coffey – Junior – Second Base A native of Carlyle, Saskatchewan Canada, Coffey comes to BG having played the last two seasons in Texas at Galveston College. In her final season at Galveston, she had 53 hits, including 14 doubles, two triples and five home runs for a .350 batting average. A 2006 graduate of Gordon F. Kells High School, Coffey was a four-time Athlete of the Year. What’s unique about Coffey is that she already has two years of college ball under her belt, so she understands the game and what it takes to win at the college level. ‘ ‘She was here about four weeks before the kids voted her as a captain,’ said head coach Shannon Salsburg. ‘Her work ethic and her ability to mesh with the girls so well has been a real nice addition.’ Coffey of course was named captain alongside senior standout Hayley Wiemer, which can add a little more pressure, but a great opportunity nonetheless. ‘I took a lot of honor to it [being named captain] because I felt like the team gave me that,’ Coffey said. Starting all 25 games this season, Coffey is coming off her best games offensively at Northern Illinois this past weekend. In two games against the Huskies, Coffey went 4-for-6 with two triples and five RBIs. Already having played college ball prior to coming to BG, Coffey brings leadership and experience to what is a very young team. In the classroom, Coffey is a liberal science major with a 3.82 GPA through last semester. After graduation she would like to become a pediatrician. Rachel Proehl – Freshman – Shortstop Making her way from Kingston, Ohio, Proehl enters her first season with the Falcons after what was a stellar high school career. A four-year letter winner at Zane Trace High School, Proehl helped the Pioneers to three consecutive undefeated Scioto Valley Conference seasons (2006-08). She was a three-time first team All-SVC selection and two-time SVC Player of the Year. Winning a district championship as a senior, Proehl hit a career best .652 batting average as she was named SVC and District Player of the Year. Just 25 games into her college career, Proehl has not missed a beat, picking up right where she left off in high school. At the plate, Proehl has a .324 batting average and leads the team with 24 hits. She is second in runs scored with ten, just behind freshman teammate West (11). Although she has had great success early on, Proehl said she had to work a lot harder to accommodate the fast-paced style that college softball brings. Off the field, Proehl is a chemistry major and would like to become a pharmacist after she graduates. Melissa West – Freshman – Third Base Coming out of Canfield, Ohio, West enters her freshman campaign with the Falcons having earned three letters at Canfield High School. As a junior she led the Cardinals with a career best .478 batting average, including a team high nine doubles, five triples, four home runs and 25 runs scored. In 2008, West earned the US Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete award. Now with the Falcons, West is playing more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie. In 25 games this season, she has compiled 20 hits and seven RBIs. West sports a .267 batting average, leading the team with five triples. West also contributes to the small-ball aspect of the game. With four sacrifice bunts on the season, West has taken notice as to how much faster college softball is compared to high school. ‘Everyone is a step quicker on fielding bunts so it makes it a lot harder,’ West said. As expected, the speed and style that college softball brings is nothing like that of high school, but West is already on pace to put up the type of numbers she did in high school. West is arguably coming off her best game of the season March 28, when she crushed a walk-off grand slam to lift the Falcons in their sweep over arch-rival Toledo. West ended the game with a career high four RBIs, in what was also her first career home run. Off the field, West is undecided on a major with a perfect 4.0 GPA through last semester. Although Proehl and West are freshmen who will only get better as their careers progress, coach Salsburg is not at all surprised at how well they are doing so early on in their first year. ‘I brought them here to have an impact and be a part of what we were going to do this season,’ Salsburg said. ‘We anticipated them offensively to get a good jump. They both played at a high caliber so we knew coming in that they should be ready to go.’ With three newcomers this year on what is already a young team, the future is sure to be a bright one for the Falcon softball team.