PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- On Friday, Feb. 7, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore softball team opens its 2014 campaign in Charleston, S.C., to compete in the Charleston Southern Tournament and looks to improve from last season.
In his ninth overall season, UMES Softball head coach Sam Douglas adds new blood to his established veteran casts, led by Morgan King (Danville, Ill.), Vanessa Gomez (Belleville, N.J.), and Chelsea Alston (Matawan, N.J.). We have a good mixture of youth and leadership on the team, Douglas stated. Last season, our returners gained a lot of experience and this season will provide guidance for our newcomers.
The Lady Hawks finished 14-35 overall (5-13 MEAC) and did not qualify for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Softball Tournament, located in Ormond Beach, Fla. at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. The team finished fifth in the MEAC Northern Division, behind Hampton (2013 MEAC Champions), Norfolk State, Delaware State, and Coppin State.
The softball team lost three players from last season, Belen Benitez, Carmen Gurrola, and Jasmine James. Benitez was the number two pitcher for the Lady Hawks, appearing in 24 contests (18 starts). In those appearances, Benitez pitched 92.1 innings; including five compete games, and struck out 25 batters. Gurrola was UMES ace as she appeared in 39 games (31 starts) while winning 12 contests. Gurrola also struck out 106 batters in 225.2 innings of work, including eight complete games. Last season, James led the team in batting average (.350) and on-base percentage (.444) while being named to the 2013 MEAC All-Conference Second Team.
The Lady Hawks return nine players from last season and many were either freshman or new to the program. Gomez is among the top returners for UMES as she finished her 2013 campaign posting a .304 batting average. Gomez led the team in categories, such as hits (51), walks (24), and stolen bases (31) while being selected to the 2013 MEAC All-Conference Second Team. King, a member of the 2013 MEAC Preseason All-Conference Team, was second on the team in batting average (.325), behind James (.350). King also led the team in several offensive categories, including slugging percentage (.468), RBIs (34), and home runs (4). Last season, Alston finished just under .300 (.293) while starting all 49 games for the Lady Hawks. Other notable Hawk returners include Emily Diseroad (Manchester, Md.), Trenece Nash (Decatur, Ga.), Rachel Vander Ven (Dover, Del.), Cherokee Williams (Upper Marlboro, Md.), Ina Chestnut (Clinton, Md.), and Carmen Frazier (Montgomery Village, Md.). In 2013, Diseroad played and started 42 games while generating 21 hits and 11 RBIs. Nash started all 49 contests for UMES and led the team in doubles (11). Last season, Vander Ven appeared in 39 games (34 starts) and posted the highest fielding percentage of any Lady Hawk (.984). Williams missed only one game and started 45 contests to finish second on the team in stolen bases (22), behind Gomez (31). Chestnut saw action in 23 contests (seven starts) while Frazier appeared in 26 games (15 starts) for the Lady Hawks.
Entering this season, the Lady Hawks have five newcomers on the roster: Allison Anderson (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Kaitlyn Hitch (Delmar, Del.); Ciara Schnyder (Arcadia, Calif.); Charisma Spencer (Montclair, N.J.); and Abria Tinsley (Sewell, N.J.). Hitch, Schnyder, and Tinsley saw collegiate action during the 2013 Fall Ball season. During the fall ball season, Schnyder started all six contests for UMES and recorded three hits, a RBI, and six runs scored. In the fall, Tinsley and Hitch were one and two for the Lady Hawks pitching staff. Tinsley led the pitching staff, starting four out of the six games. Tinsley pitched 17 innings while allowing a 4.24 ERA on 16 hits. Tinsley allowed 10 runs, eight were earned. The opposition batted .242 and Tinsley struck out 14 batters. Hitch was second on the team in innings pitched (16) and appeared in all six contests. Hitch accumulated a 4.50 ERA while allowing 22 hits and 15 runs (eight earned). Hitch struck out eight batters in the process.
This season, the Lady Hawks are scheduled to play 50 games, including 12 home games at Hawks Field. Next weekend (02/07-09), the softball team begins their 2014 campaign in Charleston, S.C. where they will compete in the Charles Southern Tournament. Two weeks later, the Lady Hawks travel to Greensboro, N.C. to participate in the North Carolina A&T Tournament (Feb. 21st 23rd), then the following weekend head to Conway, S.C. to play in the Coastal Carolina Invitational (Feb. 28th Mar. 2nd). In March, the team faces the University of Maryland Baltimore County in a home-and-home matchup where the Lady Hawks travel to Baltimore (03/07) for a doubleheader, and then the team host the Retrievers (03/09) for a doubleheader. Three days later (03/12), the Lady Hawks host the University of Rhode Island for a single game, then head down to Durham, N.C. for two days (03/15-16) to face conference foe North Carolina Central in a three- game series. Next, the team travels to Savannah, Ga. to square off against Savannah State (03/18) in a doubleheader, then head to Orangeburg, S.C. to face the Lady Bulldogs of South Carolina State University (03/20). Two days later (03/22-23), the Lady Hawks return home for a three-game series against Howard and then end the month on the road against Coppin State (03/29-30) for another three-game series.
In April, the team travels to Newark, Del. to face Delaware (04/02) in a doubleheader, then return home to battle Norfolk State (04/05-06) in a three-game series. Two weeks later (04/18-19), the Lady Hawks travel to Hampton, Va. to face the Lady Pirates of Hampton University in a three-game series. Four days later (04/23), the team travels to Fairfax, Va. to battle George Mason University in a doubleheader. Next, the Lady Hawks face Morgan State (04/26- 27) in a three-game series and then wrap-up the regular season at home versus Delaware State (05/03-04).
For complete recaps, results and news of Hawk athletics, please visit www.umeshawks.com.