The Muhlenberg softball team started the 2008 season with a 4-3 win against Wartburg, ranked No. 2 in the Division III preseason poll. The last weekend of the season, the Mules split with Ursinus, which went on to win the Centennial Conference championship and come within one game of the Division III World Series.
In between, however, the results were not so great, and Muhlenberg ended the campaign with an 8-28 record.
The Mules’ lone senior in uniform, Katie Vecchione finished her career with 12 wins.
The Mules struggled to hit for most of the season, batting only .228 as a team and getting shut out 10 times. The bats did heat up right at the end, as Muhlenberg scored eight runs in each of its last three games – the first time the team put up eight runs in three straight games since 2001.
That late surge was promising for a young lineup that did not have any seniors. The Mules had six freshmen who saw significant playing time, and four of them hit home runs during the season.
Junior catcher RiRi Ferrigno batted .311 and earned first-team All-Centennial Conference honors. She belted two home runs, including her second career grand slam, and drove in a team-leading 20 runs. Behind the plate, Ferrigno committed only two errors in 176 chances.
Junior Samantha Crist hit .270 and led the team in runs scored (18), stolen bases (5), walks (12) and sacrifices (6). Sophomore Allie Saltstein showed considerable improvement over the course of the season, hitting .325 over her final 12 games to finish with a .250 batting average.
Among the freshmen, Jess Kasza led the Mules with a .321 batting average, 34 hits and 9 doubles. Alyssa D’Addio started the first 29 games at shortstop before getting injured and hit .244 with a pair of home runs. Ashley Brewer hit .309 the second half of the year and pitched a three-hit shutout against Washington in the season finale. Alyssa Bruckner picked up two wins on the mound.
The young talent points to a bright future for the program, but that future won’t include 12-year head coach Ruth Gibbs, who retired after the season. Gibbs earned her 200th career win when Muhlenberg defeated Beloit, 6-3, in Florida.