Jan. 10, 2005
Last year's team was filled with experience as it had nine seniors. This year's team has just two seniors. Talk about the experience level of the team.
With nine seniors lost, most of which had significant game playing time for four years, this year's team doesn't have as much experience playing at the college level. But what the team lacks in game experience they will make up with hard work and determination. This young team has worked extremely hard since day one and has shown me that they want to win by the way they practice. They don't look at this year as a rebuilding year, seniors Cassie Gross and Shannon St. Clair aren't going to let that happen. Many teams will underestimate us because we are so young on paper. I just don't think we will play like we are a young team.
Although you will rely on the returners early on in the season, which newcomers have the ability to help the team the most?
The team is constantly competing against one and other during practice, sprints and lifting and all of the newcomers have the ability to help this team. Erin Lafayette will certainly be ranked among the Atlantic 10 in pitching by the end of this season. Lafayette will complement Melissa Myher (Jr) and Chelsea Grozenski (So) to round out our pitching staff. Christine Eggers (1st Base) and Blair Crabtree (3rd base) have great offensive and defensive skills and will move into the open corners. Laura Matthews had an excellent high school career and will be competing for time behind the plate. Cortney Schafer, Sheena Rothwell, Jessica Bergman and Angel Conaway will compete for an outfield position, while Lauren Schneider will be able to help us in the designated hitter position.
How will the pitching shape up this season and who will you rely on to get outs in the circle?
We will continue to rely on junior Melissa Myher who has really stepped up her game from last season. I am confident that she will be our "go to girl" again this season. Complementing her will be freshmen Erin Lafayette and sophomore Chelsea Grozenski. All three pitchers have such different pitching styles that we will be able to keep batters off balance. Overall, I am really impressed with our pitching staff and I think that they will bring three different types of pitching to this team which can only help us throughout the season.
Who will be depended upon to lead the offense?
Both Gross and St. Clair bring big bats to the table and this team will depend on them to lead our offense. I look for them to be more consistent this year since both of them have started for the last four years. The freshmen will have to trust their abilities and help produce some hits to compliment our returners. Tamsyn Kellough has emerged this fall as a fantastic hitter and we will rely on her to come through in the clutch.
What is the strength of this team? Pitching, offense or defense?
The strength of the UD softball team has always been the pitching and this year will be no different. We have added more offense this season by recruiting some excellent hitters along with a focus on having a defensive presence. I think we are a well-rounded team with a lot of potential and team unity is a big strength of this team. The players all work hard and support each other on and off the field.
UD has a new facility to play at this season. How will the new field help the team succeed? Will the new stadium be a hitters or a pitchers park?
Our team is ready and can't wait to start playing on the new field. We have seen our field materialize from a patch of dirt to a gorgeous softball stadium. It has been exciting to watch the transformation of the field over the past seven months. When it is all said and done we will have one of the premier softball facilities in the State of Ohio.
The new facility will be a hitter friendly park. The dimensions are different from Stuart Field (190 feet in the lanes now vs 207 feet) so there will be more home runs hit at this new facility versus the old field.
What should we expect to see from the teams in the Atlantic 10 this year?
As always the Atlantic 10 Conference will be extremely competitive this year. UMass is the perennial power in the A-10. However, Temple emerged as the conference tournament champs last year and they should not be overlooked. The NCAA showed our conference a lot of respect when they picked UMass to join the 2004 tournament after they did not receive the automatic bid. St. Josephs and Fordham will provide a strong challenge for Dayton again this year while Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, La Salle and George Washington have improved from last season.