The softball team starts its 2006 campaign this weekend, as it travels down to Fairfax, Va., to play in the George Mason Patriot Classic. Tomorrow the team will face-off against Mount St. Mary’s and Niagara. On Sunday the Red will play Niagara and host, George Mason.
The Red lineup will look a bit different tomorrow than it did during the 2005 season. The Red will be without two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, Lauren May ’05. May broke almost every batting record in Cornell softball history including career hits (226), home runs (58), RBIs (190), batting average (.415), total bases (443), slugging percentage (.415), bases on balls (79) and on-base percentage (.483).
“No one will be able to fill Lauren May’s shoes,” said head coach Dick Blood. “But now we have a more balanced lineup and we’re hoping that we’ll be more consistent since our offense will be pretty evenly spread eight or nine spots deep.”
Senior captain Whitney Smith feels similarly to Coach Blood.
“I’m really excited to get going. The team chemistry is great this year,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we play once we get on the field together.”
Some things will remain the same. Returning to the leadoff slot will be sophomore Jenna Campagnolo, who has been nursing an ankle injury, but according to Blood, is ready to play for the Mount St. Mary’s game.
In addition to Smith, senior captain Caitlin Warren – fresh from playing for the women’s hockey team – also leads the Red. Although she was skating on the ice for the Red, Warren was still practicing with the softball team and is ready to play this weekend.
The pitching staff is ready to shine this weekend. Sophomore Jenn Meunier will start games one and three against Mount St. Mary’s and Niagara, respectively. Smith will pitch in the game against Niagara tomorrow, and freshman Haley Mirrer will make her Cornell debut in game four against George Mason. Mirrer will also be available out of the bullpen in the first three games if any of the other starters need relief.
Even with the lineup set exactly the way Blood wants it, this weekend’s games won’t be easy. Mount St. Mary’s and George Mason have already played outdoor games, and Mount St. Mary’s has an impressive 2-1 win over Army under its belts.
“It’s tough because some of the other teams have already been on the field,” Blood said. “I just hope our hitters relax in the box and our pitchers are able to settle down quickly.”
In some ways the Red is particularly looking forward to Sunday’s match up with George Mason. Last season, George Mason rallied to produce a huge four-run seventh-inning comeback to barely outscore the Red. But Smith only sees the big picture.
“We want to beat whoever we’re playing. The bottom line is that we want four Ws this weekend,” Smith said.