Softball starts with murderer’s row

| Senior Sports Editor

Residents of Nemerov and Dardick Houses should start hearing the crack of bats and the thwack of leather as the Washington University softball season begins. The Bears enter the season ranked 7th by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. “It’s reflective of what other coaches in the country think of our program,” Coach Leticia Pineda-Boute. “I really don’t like the focus on preseason rankings because you haven’t done anything to earn it.”

The Red and Green return from a 27-13 season in which they advanced to the Regional Final. Though the team graduated catcher Lindsay Cavarra and second baseman Kerry Kreitman last May, seven starters return for another shot at the national title. Leading this squad are senior co-captains Megan Fieser, Ashton Hitchcock, Caitlyn Hoffman, and Carter Malouf. All four were part of the National Runner-Up squad in 2007. “These seniors have exceeded any other group by far,” Coach Let said. “They’re not just captains by title but by example as well. They definitely know what it takes to get back.”

Five freshmen and several letterwinners join this experienced group and look to vie for playing time. “We’re a completely different team,” Coach Let said. “We have a few positions that are kind of dependent on who’s producing.”

In the pitcher’s circle, second team All-American and 2009 UAA MVP junior Claire Voris and sophomore Olivia Cook will look to limit opponent’s offensive opportunities.” I think they’re going to dominate,” Fieser said. “What they don’t dominate, the team will be right behind them and defend anything that’s hit off of them.”

The Bears batting line-up is stacked with four all-UAA selections including Hitchcock, Malouf, Fieser and sophomore Corissa Santos. Sophomore Alyssa Abramoski found her stride late in the season, blasting her way onto the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament team. “Top to bottom offense and defense, this is the strongest team we’ve had [since I've been here],” Coach Let said. “We have a murderer’s row similar to the Cardinals.”

Her players share that sentiment. “When I look at the possibilites for our line up, it’s absolutely deadly,” Fieser said. “I see true power. Up and down the line up, you have speed and power. We have it all.”

Wash. U., the defending University Athletic Association champion, is the lone UAA school in the top 25. None of the other UAA schools that the Bears face over Spring Break at the conference championships such as Emory University, the University of Rochester, Case Western Reserve University, and Brandeis University received any votes in the preseason poll. The Red and Green will attempt to extend their title streak to seven. “We really don’t want to share it with anybody,” Fieser said.

The Bears face few ranked opponents this season as they take on No. 12 Illinois Wesleyan University, No. 14 DePauw University, and No. 24 Central College. Wash. U. will also get a shot at vengeance against Webster University on April 25. The Gorloks ended the Bears’ 2009 title run in the NCAA Regional Final with a 7-2 win.

The Red and Green take on Hendrix College and Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. this weekend to kickoff their 2010 campaign. Wash. U.’s first home action will be on March 20th as the Bears host the Marriott West tournament.”I’m definitely excited to show them everything we’ve got and really go for it,” Fieser said.