Softball teams aims to make conference tournament in 2004

The Binghamton University softball team enters the 2004 season determined to take the next step as a program and advance to the America East Conference Tournament. Having finished fifth in the conference the last two seasons, the Bearcats have just missed qualifying for the four-team championship. In 2004, they are determined to make the third time the charm.

“We have continued to improve as a team,” head coach Holly Brown said. “All of our players have more experience and a better knowledge of the game. Our returnees have really bought into what we are trying to accomplish and have the mentality that we need to take our game to the next level. We have a good solid core group of players with the depth behind them that will make our lineup more versatile. We are also a faster team overall that will hopefully help us offensively this year.”


Sophomore Katie Hansen and senior Michelle Weeks are the top two returning starters on the mound. After adjusting to the college game last season, Hansen has improved tremendously during the off-season. Weeks, meanwhile, was named first-team America East All-Conference after striking out a school-record 143 batters and posted a 10-6 record with a 1.34 ERA. The top newcomer, who could also be a starter, is sophomore Lauren Reis, a transfer from Division III Mount Holyoke College.

Also returning to the pitching staff this season is senior Karen Prievo. Freshmen Andrea Feldman and Christine Semon are the other two newcomers.

“Our pitchers will really need to work well together this year,” Brown said. “They all need to stay on top of their game, stay focused and pick each other up when someone is struggling.”


Behind the plate, senior Jessica Chellis, begins her fourth season as a full-time starter. The past two seasons, she has been named first-team America East all-conference and in 2003, she led the Bearcats in home runs (three) and RBI (13).

Sophomore Rose Barre and junior Marybeth Yerdon are the other two returning starters. Barre, who was the team’s leadoff hitter last year, returns at the shortstop position. Yerdon, who started 37 games last season, will play primarily at first and second base. Sophomore Nicole Vitello, who will see action at both second base and shortstop, is perhaps the most improved hitter on the team.

Freshman Sara Eppolito is the top newcomer to the infield and could start at third base. She will be backed up by freshman Jessica Isaacs. A third freshman, Christine Quijano, will get playing time at both the first base and catcher positions.

“This is a strong, fundamental group we have in the infield,” Brown said. “They communicate well and are very committed to executing each play effectively.”


Four veterans anchor the Bearcats’ outfield in 2004. Seniors Christine Sweeney and Leigh Ann Savidge return, along with junior Jessica Dima and Marisa DeStasio. Sweeney finished second on the team last season with a .275 batting average. Savidge was named second-team America East All-Conference in 2002 while DeStasio earned the same honor in 2003. Dima, meanwhile, transferred from St. John’s prior to last season and finished third on the team in hitting (.258). Also returning to the outfield is sophomore Lauren Verrusio while freshmen Christina Aracena and Amanda Dorrell are the top two newcomers.

“We have a very quick group of outfielders,” Brown said. “They are strong defensively and work really well together.”


Binghamton has three early season tournaments before it starts the conference schedule. The Bearcats head to UMBC the weekend of March 12-14, James Madison the weekend of March 19-21 and the University of Virginia for a tournament March 26-28.

Starting April 3, the Bearcats head into conference action against Hartford. Defending America East Champion Boston University and the rest of the conference opponents pose to be contenders this year for first place. With the addition of UMBC, there will now be eight teams vying for the four bids to the post-season tournament.

“Our goal is to make it to the conference tournament,” Brown said. “We have improved over the past couple of years, but so has everyone else in the conference. It will be tougher than it was before to qualify. We just need to play well consistently throughout the season.”


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