Softball team starts 9-0

After finishing the 2010 season with a robust 33-10 record, the College’s softball team looked to duplicate last season’s success by playing nine games in six days in Orlando, Fla.

The team finished the road trip with an impressive 9-0 record while outscoring its opponents 62-18.

“Getting the opportunity to play consistent games in decent temperatures is huge for us at a complex where they understand how critical and important these games are for teams,” head coach Sally Miller said. “We have scheduled some very good competition down here at the same time. Competition that should also give us the opportunity to gain a lot of confidence as well.”

The Lions’ pitching staff was utterly dominant in Orlando, which was led by junior Lauren Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons pitched in 31.1 innings, recording 36 strikeouts and no earned runs.

Her dominant stretch included a no-hitter in the Lions’ opening game against Elizabethtown College, in which the Lions defeated the Blue Jays by a score of 2-0. The Blue Jays’ only base runner of the day was sophomore Courtney Comstock, who reached base on a walk in the seventh inning.

Freshman Alex Carisone also had a strong performance down in Orlando, pitching 13 innings and recording 13 strikeouts with a 1.08 ERA.

“I think now the pitching staff has a better understanding of what level they have to have their performance at for us to have success as a team,” Miller said. “A lot more hard work ahead for them and learning how precise every pitch has to be or the ball will get hit hard.”

Playing arguably one of the toughest positions on the diamond, junior catcher Michelle Kent has been considered by Miller as one of the key parts to the success of the pitching staff.

Kent’s experience and leadership behind the plate has been vital to this very young pitching staff that has three freshmen and one junior.

“Michelle Kent is doing a great job with returner Fitzsimmons and is trying to really help the first-year pitchers who need (Kent’s) experience behind the plate,” Miller said. “She is just a constant behind the plate and gives the pitchers one less thing to worry about.”

One of the biggest wins for the College was against Thiel College. The Tomcats struck for four quick runs in the first inning, but the Lions rebounded with six runs in the bottom half of the same inning. Sophomore Michelle Casale provided a big hit, ripping a loaded bases-clearing triple. The Lions did not look back from there, tacking on six more runs in the fifth en route to a 14-10 victory.

“We hit the ball, ran the bases extremely well and capitalized on the other team’s mistakes,” Miller said. “We have a lot of speed on this team, some noticeable and some very deceiving.”

The Lions were able to play players in different positions, while also testing the freshmen in some crucial games. As a result, Miller was able to evaluate the strengths of her team in a very small timeframe.

The Lions are back in action on March 17 against Moravian College at home.