CHESTERTOWN, Md.– Happy, but not satisfied. That's the theme you could use for the 2014 Washington College softball team coming off their most successful season in the program's history.
In 2013, the Shorewomen Nine achieved a lot by winning their first-ever Centennial Conference crown, appearing in their first NCAA Tournament, becoming the first women's team at Washington College to win an NCAA Tournament game (over Utica 11-6 in nine innings) and setting the program mark for victories in a single season with 27. However, the 2014 version of the team wants to exceed what the 2013 team achieved and is eager for the challenge according to sixth-year head coach Lacey Lister.
"We're excited coming off of a great year and looking to improve on it and take the next step," states Lister, who is the program's all-time leader in wins with 97. She added that "we're deep as a team and as long as we work hard and stay healthy, I expect us to have another great season. With us being deep, I feel comfortable with anybody filling in roles."
The Shorewomen have a roster of 20 this spring, returning 14 players from the history making squad of last season with six new players. The roster is a mix of veterans and youth and is comprised of four seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores and five freshmen.
Behind the plate, the Shorewomen return three-time All-Centennial Conference honoree in senior Kylie Nottingham (Ocean City, Md./Stephen Decatur). Nottingham, who has been the team's primary backstop since 2011, had another solid season behind the plate with a .323 batting average with a team-best six home runs and 35 RBI. She also set a school record by getting hit by a pitch on 16 occasions which helped her establish a career-best .463 on-base percentage. Also seeing time behind the plate will be freshman Caitlyn Kirby (Glen Burnie, Md./Glen Burnie).
At first base, senior Lauren Dockrill (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic) will be the team's starter for the fourth straight season. Dockrill bounced back from a down 2012 in 2013 with a .390 average and drove in a career-high 24 runs. She also hit 18 doubles to set the Centennial Conference mark for all-time doubles with 46. She is currently the Shorewomen's record holder in doubles, at bats (438), chances (948) and putouts (891). Also seeing time at first base will be sophomore Meredith Katona (West Chester, Pa./Bayard Rustin) and freshman Aubrey Hubbard (Hurlock, Md./North Dorchester). Katona had four hits in 10 at-bats last season for the team, while also working out a walk.
There will be a new second baseman this season for the team and currently there is a three-way battle for the starting spot. Lister projects junior Kelsey Graham (Dunkirk, Md./Northern) as the starter this season, but also competing for the position are sophomore Brittney Hubbard (Hurlock, Md./North Dorchester) and freshman Gina DeAngelis (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny). Graham appeared in 23 games last year for WC and earned nine starts, while Brittney Hubbard played in nine contests, primarily as a pinch-runner, and scored six runs.
Senior Claire Mattox (Arlington, Va./Potomac School) is expected to be the team's starting shortstop this spring. Mattox, the team's Most Improved Player in 2013, came through in the conference and NCAA Tournaments as she had seven hits in 19 at-bats for a .368 average and raised her average 94 points to .294. Others in competition for shortstop are junior Suzanne Patinella (Fallston, Md./Maryvale Prep) and freshman Kerri Estep (Lancaster, Pa./Penn Manor). Patinella hit five home runs and drove in 28 runs last year while hitting .250. Her five home runs were second on the team behind Nottingham.
Kirby is projected starter at third base with sophomore Trish Langley (Little Silver, N.J./Red Bank Regional) also competing for time at the hot corner.
Expected to be the starter in left field this season is sophomore Clare Hofstedt (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park). Hofstedt had a solid freshman campaign where she hit .322 with 28 hits, 15 runs scored and nine RBI. Also expected to see time in left will be sophomore Sadie Robertson (Cape May Court House, N.J./Middle Township) who appeared in 25 games last year, scoring six runs and swiping four bases.
Centerfield is going to be patrolled by sophomore Paige Briganti (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park). Briganti had a tremendous freshman season where she was All-Centennial Conference second team and represented the Shorewomen on the All-Ithaca Regional Team in the NCAA Tournament. She led the team in walks with 23 and sacrifice hits with 10, while hitting .378 with 33 runs, 56 hits, 26 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 12 tries.
Senior Hilary Rosenberg (Sweetwater, N.J./Oakcrest) is the probable starter in right field this season. Rosenberg hit a career-best .286 in 2013 and slammed her first career home run at Catholic. Also seeing time in right will be junior Christine Anderson (Palmer Lake, Colo./Lewis-Palmer) and freshman Erin Spinden (Wilmington, Del./Delcastle Technical). Anderson had another solid season at the plate in 2013, batting .314 with a career-high 16 runs driven in while pounding out 37 hits. She was an All-Centennial Conference first team honoree last season and one of three returning all-conference players for the team.
Lister sees Patinella, junior Kristin Cooper (Georgetown, Del./Sussex Central) and Katona in the designated player role this season. Cooper belted five home runs last season and tallied 43 total bases, while netting 19 RBI. Cooper has hit 12 home runs in her first two seasons at Washington.
The team's pitching situation should be the best in Lister's time as coach of the team. Joining Anderson and Cooper this season will be sophomore transfer Sydnee Schorr (Easton, Md./Easton). Schorr comes to WC from Savannah College of Art & Design where she was 8-3 with a 1.45 ERA in 72.1 innings in 2012. Schorr walked just 16 hitters while striking out 72. Cooper went 14-10 in 2013, setting the program record for wins in a single-season at Washington with her 14 triumphs. She struck out 118 hitters, a single-season record, breaking her own mark of 108 in 2012, while pitching to a 2.74 ERA and have seven shutouts, also a school-record for a single season. Her eight all-time whitewashings are a program best. Cooper, who tossed a program-most 156 innings in 2013, also recorded a pair of saves. Anderson set the program record for starts in a season with 22 in 2013, went 10-8 with a 3.18 ERA, tallying two blankings for the squad in 2013. In 28 total outings, she struck out 75 batters in 125.1 innings pitched, going the entire way 14 times. Aubrey Hubbard is also expected to see time in the circle for Washington this season.
The squad also expects to improve its defense from 2013, where they fielded just .936, including fielding just .899 at home in 12 contests. The team fielded .937 (15 games) on the road and .963 (19 games) in neutral site games. Lister hopes the team can cut down the unearned runs this season with better defense as the team surrendered 60 unearned runs a season ago.
Washington's schedule will be a tough one as they are facing five teams in the NFCA Division III Preseason Top 25. Washington will open its home slate on March 4 against #3 Salisbury. In Florida, the team will be playing #2 Montclair State (March 13) and #4 Cortland (March 14). Cortland won the Ithaca Regional last season and was the finalist in the NCAA Division III World Series, eliminating Salisbury in the process, while Montclair State also advanced to the World Series last year where they were eliminated by Salisbury. The Shorewomen will take on #10 Virginia Wesleyan on March 1 in Virginia Beach, Va., #16 Christopher Newport on March 8 in Salisbury, Md. and travel to #20 Rowan on April 3. Washington will also play NCAA Tournament teams, Kean and Western Connecticut in Virginia Beach in the squad's first two games respectively on February 28 and Thomas More on March 10 in the team's first game in Florida. The team will also play ECAC Tournament teams Frostburg State (March 8) in Salisbury and Centenary (N.J.) (February 28) in Virginia Beach.
"We're looking forward to the challenge," says Lister. "It's good for us to be tested to see where we are and get us ready for conference play. We can compete with anybody at any time."
Joining Lister on the coaching staff for the second straight year is Sally Snover, a 2012 Washington College graduate. Snover was a four-year starter at third base for the Shorewomen from 2009-12.
In Centennial play, the team will host in doubleheaders Franklin & Marshall (March 22), Ursinus (April 1), Gettysburg (April 12) and McDaniel (April 26) and will travel in twinbills to conference finalist Haverford (March 25), Muhlenberg (March 29), Dickinson (April 5) and Swarthmore (April 15). The team will also host Catholic on April 9 in a twinbill, while traveling to York (Pa.) (March 22) and Stevenson (April 23) for doubleheaders. Washington will also play Roanoke in Virginia Beach on March 1 in a single game.
In addition to Cortland, Montclair State and Thomas More in Florida, the team will play Westminster (Pa.) on March 10, Geneva and Suffolk on March 11, Waynesburg on March 13 and Muskingum on March 14. The team will play teams from Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia this season. The team will have 12 home games, 14 road games and 14 neutral site games for a total of 40 games on the slate this spring.