Febuary 12th, 2009

2009 Softball Preview


BLOOMSBURG - After finishing with 51 victories, the second most in school history and losing some key players to graduation, some people would consider the 2009 Bloomsburg University softball team to be in a rebuilding mode.

But, with head coach Jan Hutchinson's 31-year track record of success as the all-time leader in career wins in Division II, reloading is a better term for what happens from one season to another.

"With all the people we lost to graduation (including Ashley Lynn, the PSAC East Pitcher of the Year), technically, this should be a rebuilding year," notes Hutchinson, who is entering her 32nd season as Huskies head coach. "However, we are fortunate because the players that do return have a lot of ability and saw a lot of time as underclassman. Offensively and defensively, we will be as strong if not stronger than last year, but our pitchers will need to step up and make their marks on our program."

Among the 11 returning players for the Huskies are third team All-American Tara Reed (Williamsport/Williamsport) and catcher Lacy Mauro (Jersey Shore/Jersey Shore) , the PSAC East Rookie of the Year in 2008.

With Lock Haven, Indiana (Pa.), Slippery Rock and Kutztown returning championship caliber teams, the PSAC is tougher than ever. Naturally, Huskies head coach Jan Hutchinson feels this team can contend.

Catcher

Mauro and senior Natalie Zimmerman (State College/State College) will share the catcher spot with the departure of Tiff Corliss. Mauro was the PSAC East Rookie of the Year last season after hitting .355 with 59 hits and 25 RBI's. Zimmerman is in her second season with the Huskies after transferring from Clarion. Both players are solid defensively. Sophomore Jenna Hampton (Catawissa/Southern Columbia) will see time at the catching position when not playing third base.

First Base

Sophomore Shavaun Fisher (Coplay /Allentown Central Catholic) and freshman Amanda Leach (Milford/Delaware Valley) will take over at first base, replacing the departed Jess Rosin. Fisher started 10 games as a true freshman and hit .278 in limited at-bats. "Shavaun is a composed, knowledgeable player who brings a lot of leadership qualities," said Hutchinson. Leach will see time at first base and shortstop. Tara Reed will also slide over to first in certain situations.

Second Base

Bloomsburg's depth is nowhere more evident than the middle infield. Junior Mandy Koch (Dauphin /Central Dauphin) will see substantial time at second as well as shortstop. Koch started 50 games last season, hitting .301 with 10 doubles and a team-high 25 walks. Sophomore Danielle Lazorka (Williamsport/Jersey Shore) made an impact at second last year as well as with her bat. Lazorka is a switch hitter and possesses great quickness. Junior Oceanna DeBaro (Milton/Milton) , a transfer from Shippensburg, plays a strong second base and will see time there.

Shortstop

Reed will once again anchor both Bloomsburg's infield and line-up. "Tara leads by example, and she raises the play of everyone else out on the field," noted assistant coach Susan Kocher. Reed led the Huskies in almost every major statistical category last season, including batting average, runs, hits and RBI's. "She gives us a lot of options, because she can produce whether she's hitting lead-off or in the middle of the order." Koch, Lazorka and Leach and will play shortstop as needed.

Third Base

Sophomore Jenna Hampton (Catawissa/Southern Columbia) will compete for the spot vacated by Kayleen Sidisky. Hampton hit .298 in 2007, driving in 25 runs in only 94 at-bats. Freshman Jackie Terwilliger (East Stroudsburg/East Stroudsburg) will contribute as well. Terwilliger brings a solid bat and a stout defensive game to the position. Junior Nikki Shiko (Kulpmont/Southern Columbia) will split time between third and the outfield.

Outfield

Sophomore Lori Neyhard (Bloomsburg/Central Columbia) and junior Casey Massimini (Downingtown/Downingtown West) will compete for time in center field. Neyhard is one of the most improved players from last season, leading the Huskies in home runs with four in 2008. Massimini, perhaps the team's fastest player, stole 11 bases last season and is capable of covering a lot of ground in the outfield. Sophomore Shayla Esgro (Jermyn/Lakeland) , a transfer from Dominican and Sophomore Emily Young (Bloomsburg/Central Columbia) possess strong bats and will contribute in the outfield. Mauro will play the outfield when she is not behind the plate. Shiko returns to the outfield after a breakout 2008 season, where she hit .348 and scored 27 runs.

Pitching

Reed is the top returning pitcher for the Huskies. Reed finished last season with an 8-3 record and a 1.27 ERA and four shutouts. "Tara has tremendous movement and speed on her pitches," said Kocher. "The door is open for her to become our go-to pitcher. We have a lot of confidence in her ability to do just that."

Shavaun Fisher (Coplay /Allentown Central Catholic) is the Huskies other returning pitcher. Although she pitched just 13 innings as a true freshman, the Huskies will need her to step up as a starter. "Shavaun brings a presence to the mound and is very composed," said Kocher. "She had a great fall and is poised to make a big impact." The Huskies are counting on two freshmen to fill out the rest of the rotation. Jamie Minix (Clarksboro, NJ/Kingsway Regional) led Kingsway High School to the New Jersey State title in 2008, and Amanda Whitford (Bangor/Bethel Park) is a hard thrower that can play outfield as well. "Whitford has a very good riseball, and that's very rare for a freshman pitcher. Both Whitford and Minix are great competitors."

Overall

"Our goals are always the same here, to make the PSAC tournament and the NCAA Championships." added Hutchinson. The Huskies will participate in the PSAC Central division, which will include Lock Haven, Indiana, Mansfield and Clarion. "The teams will be different but the competition throughout the PSAC remains very tough," said Hutchinson.