teams aims to make conference tournament in 2004
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.
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
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 teams
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. Johns 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
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.