After a season in which the softball team finished one game out of first place, the Red will begin its quest tomorrow to dethrone two-time Ivy League defending champion Princeton. The 2007 season begins this weekend with the George Mason Classic in Virginia. The Red will play four games in two days, including two games against Niagara along with games against Central Connecticut and host George Mason. Blood is concerned about the adjustment to fielding outdoors, as the team has been practicing indoors all winter.
“The challenge is to get outside and catch ground balls and fly balls,” he said. “[Outside], we should be able to see the ball better at the plate. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to hit the ball.”
[img_assist|nid=21807|title=Extend and release|desc=Junior pitcher Jen Meunier, delivering an offering on April 5, will be counted on to continue her stellar pitching this season. (Robert Bonow / Sun Photo Editor)|link=popup|align=right|width=71|height=100]
The Red went 2-2 at the George Mason Classic one year ago, but the team feels it should have done better. The Red lost to Saint Mary’s in large part due to costly fielding errors. The team’s other loss came against Niagara, who the Red defeated 9-0 the very next day. With the return of its strong pitching and some new additions in the field, the Red hopes to do better this year.
Last year, the Red used strong pitching to finish 32-23, including 11-3 against Ivy foes.
“I expect that if we are able to get valuable contributions from our freshmen early in the season, both offensively and defensively, we can challenge for the Ivy League championship,” said head coach Dick Blood. “Last year, we showed we were one of the poorest offensive teams and defensive teams in the league, but our pitching was very solid.”
Much of that strong pitching returns in the form of junior Jen Meunier and sophomore Haley Mirrer. Last season, Meunier pitched over 170 innings with an earned run average of 2.08, good for fourth in the Ivies. Mirrer had a strong freshman campaign, striking out almost one batter per inning and recording an ERA of 2.89.
The Red hopes to improve on offense, but is expecting tremendous progress with its defense.
“We have a little more depth defensively than we’ve had in past year,” Blood said. “I’m not going to say we have great depth offensively, but we do defensively.”
The Red’s starting outfield returns three players who played well for the team a season ago. In its opening game against Niagara, the Red plans to start sophomore Meghan Risica in left field, junior Jenna Campagnolo in center field and junior Ashley Wolf in right field. Wolf won the Ivy League batting title in 2006.
The Red infield features both team captains along with two freshmen. Senior co-captain Lauren Battaglia will be one of many infielders Blood plans to use at first base, and she is expected to start the team’s first game. The team’s other co-captain, junior Samantha Hare, will play shortstop, while sophomore Nicole Cheever will start at catcher. The two freshmen who are expected to start right away include Devon March, who will play second base, and classmate Elise Menaker, who will have an opportunity to prove herself at third base.