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Softball ready to begin season

Photo Courtesy | Softball begins their season Mar. 3 in Clermont, Fla. against Dowling College.

Jennifer Hoffer – Sports Writer

Heading into the 2013 season, the Owls softball team looks to repeat the same feat they did last season: reach the College World Series.

“We’re experienced now,” Head Coach Lisa Barbaro said. “We have many key returning players that will help make the team strong.”

The Owls finished with a record of 43-13 in the 2012 season, falling short in the CWS (College World Series) to Central Oklahoma and Valdosta State University. The end of the season also came with the loss of their senior group of players. One of those key players was pitcher Jayme Larson; who was number one pitcher on the mound for both the regular and postseason.

“Jayme was the strongest leader that we lost,” Barbaro said. “She was vocal on the field and was an outstanding pitcher. One of the best in the region.”

Photo Courtesy | southernctowls.comSoftball begins their season Mar. 3 in Clermont, Fla. against Dowling College.
Photo Courtesy |
Softball begins their season Mar. 3 in Clermont, Fla. against Dowling College.

The team also lost Jessica Rosa and Alyssa Pagano, two of which were great defenders and put up power numbers every game. Allison Lehner and Shawna Mallory round out the rest of last year’s senior class.

The team is left now with a fairly young team consisting of freshmen and sophomores. But that also includes the six seniors of the 2013 class.

Kate Hoffman, Alyssa Downs, Kristin Whitley and Stacy Pouliot, all seniors, will be filling the spots in the infield for the season. Kelly Mitchell and Nora Crann, two sophomores, will round out the rest of the infield. Kelsey Cockrill, also a sophomore, will be the pitcher for the Owls this season.

“We have strong leaders,” Barbaro said. “We also have a lot of freshman talent coming on the team. We have a strong freshman pitcher, Kelsey McCarthy, who will help carry the team on the mound.”

Sambina Farese and Brittany Bucko are also part of the senior class, as they will be getting action in the outfield positions. Barbaro said she has a pleasure coaching these players and is excited as to what this season will bring.

“This is a great team,” Barbaro said. “The student athletes have great dedication not only dedicated to the sport but also in class. They all work well together with the same goals in mind which is trying to get back to the postseason.”

The team kicks off their spring training in Clermont, Florida on Mar. 6 and will begin their regular season with a home opener against Post University.

The team is well aware that they are now left with a younger squad than last year, but that isn’t stopping them from hoping to get to the postseason. Senior Alyssa Downs said she is excited to play with the new girls and see how well they all play together.

“A big part of our success last season was the fact that we had an older team,” Downs said. “We’ve been playing together for a while. And playing consistently together helps a lot because we know what each other can do and how to work well with each other to be successful.”

As for Downs’ individual game, she is looking to enjoy her last year on the team and really get the best out of it.

“I’ve been working really hard during practices,” Downs said. “Last year was a great year for me and the team. So just like last year I’m just looking to motivate everybody on the team to help reach our goal which is of course to go as far as we possibly can to get back to the World Series.”

Pouliot said she is looking forward to returning to the World Series and working on her individual game too.

“Experience was huge last year,” Pouliot said. “So now with a younger team I’m really looking forward to build the program back up, make a run to the Series again and make my last year memorable here.”

Defensively Pouliot said she was pleased with her performance she put on last year. On the hitting side, however, she said she wants to improve her wing so she could help contribute to the team offensively.

“Reaching the World Series was a huge accomplishment, it was a lot of fun,” Pouliot said. “I’m really looking forward to get back there this year.”


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