Wednesday, February 28, 2007
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ON ITS BACK
When this years Muhlenberg softball seniors were freshmen, coach Ruth Gibbs asked the team to define the Greek word areté. This year, the team is using that exercise as motivation.
According to the Mules, a woman of areté uses strength, bravery, wit and virtue to achieve real results; and this year the team will carry that message on their backs. Well, on the backs of their team t-shirts.
For Muhlenberg, achieving real results means qualifying for a berth in the Centennial Conference tournament while playing the season as one cohesive and strong, brave, witty and virtuous unit. The teams quest begins on Sunday, March 4, when the Mules take on St. Francis (Ill.) at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla.
The Mules return a solid mix of young players and veteran leadership to the diamond including six of their top seven hitters from a year ago, as well as their entire pitching staff to field a balanced team.
Last years freshman class, which now has a season of college experience under its belt, is ready to improve upon its solid debut. Three of the four youngsters catcher RiRi Ferrigno, outfielder Samantha Crist and versatile player Michelle Consiglio combined for 42 of the teams 110 runs last season and will look to contribute even more this year.
Ferrigno, especially, is expected to step up again. Last year she set the school record for doubles in a season with 16, helping the Mules finish the year among the top five in the conference in that category. And as Muhlenbergs starting catcher, Ferrigno will also look to lead the league in runners picked off for the second year in a row.
The final member of the now-sophomore group, Lara Kestenbaum, stepped right in to the Mules starting pitching rotation and earned one of the teams seven shutouts last year. Muhlenberg finished the season in a tie for third in the conference in that category, and the veteran rotation hopes to hold even more opponents scoreless this year.
The pitching staff will be led once again by senior Nicole Washburn and junior Katie Vecchione, each of whom threw three shutouts last year and landed in the top 10 in the conference in earned run average. Washburn, one of the teams co-captains this year, led the team with an 11-7 record and 1.83 ERA in 2006 and gave up only nine walks while striking out 78 in 115 innings pitched last year.
The pitching staff is going to be really strong for us again this year, Olson said. Their pitches have a lot of movement on them, especially Washburns. She threw one past me, and I didnt know what happened.
Rounding out the returners for Muhlenberg are senior co-captain and outfielder Hilary Marinchak, junior infielder Jennifer Rosenthal and senior infielder Tina Roth. Marinchaks speed on the bases will be a key part of Muhlenbergs offensive production this year, as she stole 10 bases in 13 tries last season. Rosenthal, on the other hand, will likely be seen trotting around the bases. She returns to the Mules having set the single-season home run record last year. Roth also conrtibuted on the offensive end, scoring nine runs and batting in 10.
Muhlenberg adds four freshmen to the lineup, and according to Olson, theyre really stepping up.
All in all, the Mules are confident in their chances of finishing the season as one of the top four teams in the conference and returning to the playoffs for the first time in three years. In fact, the last time the team went to playoffs was the same year the team was asked to define areté.
We just have to play our game, Olson said. Our game is a good one.
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Last updated February 28, 2007