This year, the Susquehanna women’s softball team has what
it hopes will be the right combination of depth, talent and
experience to put together another successful season.
With nine newcomers joining the Crusaders for the 2012 campaign, the fall and preseason practices have been critical in making sure the team is prepared for the long season ahead, which head coach Kathy Kroupa believes has already happened.
“We have nine brand new players but my expectations are that we’re not going to have a drop-off,” Kroupa said. “We have a lot of depth even though we’re young and I 100 percent believe we have the talent to be successful, no doubt in my mind.”
While the team’s schedule is, as usual, a challenging one, Kroupa and her staff are hoping that their early season games against some perennially strong teams will prepare the Crusaders for their Landmark Conference opener against Moravian, a NCAA team one year ago.
“We upped the competition early because we wanted to make sure we were ready for Moravian,” Kroupa explained, “which is always a key series in the conference because the league is totally up for grabs this year.”
AT THE PLATE
SU returns several key bats to its lineup this year, most notably centerfielder Lisa Finizio, an all-league and third team all-region player. Last year the leadoff hitter led the team with her .387 batting average, 53 hits and put together a perfect 13-for-13 season on the base paths.
Also back in the lineup is catcher Brittany Devlin, who drove in 15 runs and hit for a .273 average in what was her rookie season.
Expected to see more consistent playing time this year are outfielders Lauren Gilbert and Kathryn Gilbert. Kathryn belted a team-high four home runs in 27 games last season while Lauren hit .254 with 13 hits and eight RBI in just 16 starts.
Freshman Alyssa Cantalini will secure a spot in the lineup as the team’s starting third baseman and is among a strong group of freshmen who bring both speed and bat skills to the team.
IN THE FIELD
There will be many familiar faces defensively for SU with several few fresh faces in the mix. There will be two new corner infielders with Cantalini earning the early starting nod at third and either returner Sarah Dowzicky or Freshman Bridget Rafter at the opposite corner to start things off.
Kate Reese shifted from shortstop to second
base, making Larissa Luu the squad’s
starting shortstop. Kroupa has noted how well the duo is already
working and communicating, making for a solid defense up the
Stephanie Chlebove, Madison Clark, Cierra Omlor, Kylie Schrey and Rafter are all freshmen who will be instrumental in the infield this year. All are working hard to win time on a competitive squad, and are all solid on both the offensive and defensive end.
Finizio will hold down her familiar spot in centerfield with the remaining two outfield spots up for grabs, but not for lack of talent. Returners Kathryn and Lauren Gilbert , Sam LaCoe and Courtney Miller will all be competing for time while Freshman Brianna Murphy is also in the mix adding speed to an already fast group of outfielders.
IN THE CIRCLE
Junior Sarah Hoffman returns as the team’s most experienced pitcher. She started 15 games last season, going 10-5 in the process, and finishing with a 1.79 ERA. She tossed five shutouts in 97.2 innings of work and struck out 55 batters.
While Allison Cullen is a sophomore, she was not a member of the team last spring, but she joins the pitching staff for 2012. In addition, freshman Morgan Lewis completes the pitching staff and both newcomers should make an immediate impact.