March 17, 2004

Softball Teams Prepare for Fierce Fight

Print More

A single game last year was all that separated the softball team from eventual league champions Princeton. Competitive doesn’t fully describe the 2003 race as only four wins separated the top four teams in the standings. Now with Cornell, Princeton, Harvard and Yale, all returning the core of their 2003 teams, the competition for this year’s title is sure to be fierce.

Princeton

2003: 24-21, 11-3 Ivy

The two-time defending Ivy champion, Princeton, is the de facto favorite for 2004 and with good reason. The Tigers return eight starters from last year, as well as all three of its starting pitchers. All-Ivy player of the year, outfielder Melissa Finley, returns for her junior year. Finley led Princeton in nearly every offensive category, batting .414 with an .800 slugging percentage. Sophomore pitcher Erin Snyder will look to build on her rookie year in which she had a 2.69 ERA and 199 strikeouts (second all-time among Princeton pitchers). Cornell’s road to an Ivy crown will have to run through Princeton.

Yale

2003: 27-23, 9-5 Ivy

Yale finished only one game behind Cornell in the 2003 standings. The Bulldogs return the core of their team, including four All-Ivy selections from last year. Yale has one of the deepest pitching staffs in the league and is looking for strong performances from sophomore pitchers Beth Pavlicek and Peggy Hunt, both ten game winners a year ago. Offensively, Yale hopes senior shortstop Leah Kelley can reproduce her 2003 career-year in which she batted .288 and had 21 stolen bases. The issue that may limit the Bulldogs in 2004 may be its fielding. Yale had the second worst team fielding percentage in the Ivies last year.

Harvard

2003: 15-26, 7-7 Ivy

While Harvard’s team remains largely intact from last season, the Crimson will be hard pressed to fill the hole left by all-star slugger Tiffany Whitton. One player capable of filling Whitton’s shoes is junior outfielder Lauren Stefanchik who was second in the Ivies in batting with a .414 average and a league-leading 24 steals. Defensively, Harvard committed the fewest errors in the league last year, giving up only 42. The Cantabs should finish in the top half of the Ivies and may even make a run at the title.

Columbia

2003: 20-22, 6-8 Ivy

The record may not show it, but Columbia had a solid year in 2003. It was the top defensive team in the league, with a .966 team fielding percentage, and Pitcher Jackie Aldelfio beat every team in the league at least once last season. Although the Lions may not have enough pieces to put together a run at the title, Columbia can easily play the role of spoiler, especially with the likes of ace pitcher Aldelfio.

Dartmouth

2003: 13-21, 5-9 Ivy

With arguably the best pitcher in the League, Danica Giugliano, Dartmouth has the potential to beat any team at anytime. Giugliano had the best ERA in the league last year giving up only 1.24 runs. Kerry Conway is one of the better defensive shortstops in the league and has an uncanny ability for getting on base. However, Dartmouth had the Ivy League’s worst team offense in 2003, barely batting over .200 collectively, and the Green will likely remain near the bottom of the pack in 2004.

Brown

2003: 16-24, 5-9 Ivy

Head coach Pam McCreesh adds eight rookies to her roster this spring and returns three All-Ivy players, but the team also lost three key starters to graduation. However, returning are the team’s two seniors, co-captains Laura Leonetti and Melissa Brown. Leonetti will be crucial in any success the Bears have this season. Last year, the infielder played in all of the Bears’ 39 games and batted .339 while leading the offense with 41 hits. Brown will use five pitchers this season, which should allow freshman recruits Darcie McClellan and Sara Corrigan-Gibbs to have an impact on the field. However, without a reliable pitching staff, the Bears will probably finish near the bottom of the League standings.

Penn

2003: 10-27, 3-11 Ivy

Penn has a new coach and a predominantly new team with only nine returning players on its team of 21. Senior workhorse Erin O’Brien will head up a Quaker rotation that will likely send eight players to the mound. O’Brien owns Penn’s all-time records for both innings pitched (479.3) and complete games (73). The Quakers were near the bottom of every team category in the Ivies last year, from pitching to batting to fielding. While the team is high on enthusiasm, it is low on two other necessary ingredients: experience and talent.

Archived article by Paul Testa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *