After losing Lauren May ’05 to graduation, the softball team needed someone to step up and fill in the gap left by the former Ivy League and ECAC Player of the Year. Fortunately for Cornell it may have found its next star in freshman outfielder Meghan Risica.
“It is wonderful to see an immediate impact. She can hit for average, hit for power, and she even has some speed,” said head coach Dick Blood.
Risica, from Franklin, Mass., has come out of the gate firing for the Red. In the Cornell’s first four games, Risica hit .385, with two home runs, five RBIs and one stolen base, as the Red went 2-2 at the George Mason Patriot Classic, held on over the weekend of March 4.
In the Red’s next set of games, Risica kept her hot streak going, including a 2-for-3, three RBI, performance in a 6-4 loss to James Madison on March 11.
Cornell (5-5) will need Risica to keep up her strong hitting if it’s going to recapture the Ivy League title, which it won back in 2004 under the leadership of May.
The Red is heading to Florida over Spring Break for the Stetson Invitational and the Rebel Games.
With 13 games in seven days, Cornell looks to improve its record against a wide variety of non-conference opponents, including Hartford, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Ohio and Vermont. Risica and the Red are excited for the challenge.
“Were just hoping to play our best and play good softball; Stay aggressive at the plate,” Risica said. “The teams that we are facing all have good pitching, so we just have to make sure were not looking at too many pitches.”
Blood points to consistency on offense as being key to the Red’s success.
“We’re going to try and get ourselves going a little better offensively. Right now, we only have two or three people playing well each game,” Blood said. “We need all our pistons firing offensively. While we have beaten the teams we should beat; we haven’t beaten anybody who is a real strong challenge.”
Risica – one of four freshmen on this year’s squad – had a stellar high school career. She was an All-Hockomock League first team all-star, a Milford Daily News first team all-star and was named Franklin High School’s offensive MVP.
“She might not be an experienced hitter at the college level, but she has already faced some tough competition at the high school level,” Blood said.
“There is obviously an adjustment [to the college game],” Risica said. “I try to just not put a lot of pressure on myself. I just want to do the best that I can and stay aggressive at the plate.”
Risica described the added pressure of the college environment as being a key difference from her days as a high school star.
“The games mean a lot more here in college. In summer ball, you might play a lot games but they might not mean a lot. Here, you’re representing your school, and everything matters a lot more,” Risica said.
Blood pointed to Risica’s unique ability to concentrate and focus as her greatest strength. He hopes Risica can continue to become more assertive at the plate.
“She takes coaching very well, and we have asked to not be as selective and be more aggressive. We need her to be more aggressive, we need to drive in runs and not take walks,” Blood said.
Fortunately for Risica, she will not have to replace May all by herself. With a solid core of sophomores and juniors, the Red will look for a total team effort to make up for the loss of May.
“We have a seasoned ball club, maybe not a veteran ball club. We will try to replace Lauren’s loss with seven or nine strong hitters. We will need a complete, deep lineup,” Blood said.
Archived article by Jeremy Drucker Sun Staff Writer