Release: February 15, 2010
First-year head coach Michelle Burrell is set to usher in a new era of Binghamton softball. The highly-successful coach arrives at Binghamton after capturing three straight Liberty League titles at the University of Rochester. She also led the school to seven wins in three NCAA Tournament appearances. Burrell amassed a 117-50 (.701) winning percentage during her four years at the University of Rochester and the team increased their win total each year. Burrell also coached at her alma mater, the University of Maryland, as an assistant from 2002-05. Burrell was a four-year starting outfielder for the Terrapins, an all-conference and all-region pick, and a member of the ACC 50th year All-Anniversary team.
Burrell inherits a team that was 7-36 overall and 2-19 in the America East, finishing in last place. However, the Bearcats are poised to be much improved with the new coaching staff and the return of a solid mix of veterans, newcomers, and players returning from injuries.
"I'm excited about this first season," Burrell said. "The players have worked hard this fall and should be much more confident and energized because of their preparation."
Junior catcher Deannie Plemon will anchor BU's infield as the team's starting catcher. Plemon enters her third year as a starter and will hit in the heart of the batting order. Plemon currently ranks in the top five in career home runs at the school.
"Deannie has emerged as a leader on the team and has a great presence behind the plate."
Junior Stephanie DeLuca will start at first base after starting 33 games for Binghamton a season ago. Senior Stephanie Kolodziejski will also provide depth at the position and is a viable option for the designated player spot.
Senior second baseman Stephanie Valencia is back after missing 36 of BU's 43 games last season with an injury. The left-handed hitter will be used near the top of the batting order and will be relied upon for solid defensive play in the middle of the infield.
Sophomore Briana Andrews returns to the lineup after missing the entire 2009 season with an injury. Andrews was a conference all-rookie selection as a middle infielder in 2008 and received a medical redshirt last season. Andrews will play shortstop and will bat at the top of the order. Senior Shannon McLeese will split time between shortstop and center field. McLeese started all 43 games for Binghamton last season.
"Briana has worked very hard with our training staff to ensure she is ready for this season. We are looking forward to having her back."
Sophomore Colleen Whitaker will round out Binghamton's infield at third base. Whitaker, a conference all-rookie selection in 2009, will also be used as Plemon's backup at catcher.
Newcomer Jessica Phillips joins the outfield unit after sitting out the 2009 season because of conference transfer rules. The redshirt freshman will start in left field and will bat third. Phillips, a highly-touted scholastic player from Cicero-North Syracuse, led her team to a pair of New York State Class AA Championships. Phillips was also the New York State Player of the Year in 2006 and a two-time All-CNY Player of the Year.
Starting in right field will be Kelly Schuldt. The junior led Binghamton in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage last year.
Sophomore Meghan Tucker can play any of the outfield positions, but will most likely split time between center field and in the pitching circle. Tucker was a conference all-rookie pick a year ago.
"Meghan has worked extremely hard this fall and has really improved her range in the outfield. She will help the team in a variety of roles this season."
Binghamton's young pitching staff will be anchored by sophomore Kristen Emerling and freshman Rhoda Marsteller. Emerling won two games last season, including a complete game shutout victory in her career debut against Brown on February 28. Marsteller joins Binghamton after a successful career at Kennard Dale High School in New Park, Pa., where she amassed 56 career wins, 774 strikeouts and a 0.88 ERA.
Also on the pitching staff will be Tucker and freshman Kate Price. Tucker started 11 games in the circle for Binghamton last year and Price is set to make her career debut after redshirting a year ago.
Binghamton's schedule will feature 45 games, including 18 America East conference games against the six other member schools. BU will open the season with five games at the Georgia Southern Classic February 19-21. The Bearcats opener will be against Lipscomb on February 19 at noon. BU will return to action two weeks later at the George Washington Classic and will conclude their in-season tournament slate at the Norfolk State Invite March 13-14.
The Bearcats will play their first three-game conference series at Albany March 27-28 and will make their home debut against Siena on March 31. BU will host UMBC in their first home conference series April 2-3. BU will take on defending conference tournament champion Boston University on the road April 24-25 and will host defending regular season champion Stony Brook May 1-2.
The Bearcats will conclude the 2010 schedule with a nine-game home stand at the East Gym Complex from April 28-May 8. If BU is among the top four of the America East at the end of the season, it will advance to the conference tournament, hosted by the regular season champions May 13-15.
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