2012 GW Softball Season Preview
Feb. 10, 2012
WASHINGTON - During Stacey Schramm's first season at the helm of the George Washington softball program in 2011, the Colonials posted a 10-win improvement from the previous season. Now entering her second year as head coach of the Buff and Blue, Schramm has high expectations for the 2012 campaign.
"I definitely expect a lot more wins this season," Schramm said. "We've really improved and we've become more consistent. As long as we play up to our level, the wins will take care of themselves."
GW returns 16 letterwinners to the lineup, including Atlantic 10 All-Rookie selection Chelsea Lenhart, in addition to welcoming a talented seven-member freshman class. Schramm also added Texas A&M standout Holly Farris to the coaching staff.
"This group of players understands the commitment level it takes to excel," said Schramm. "The freshmen have come in with a sense of confidence and the desire to be successful. Last year was a step in the right direction, and this year we expect to take another large step."
The Colonials open the 2012 season on Friday, Feb. 10, in Conway, S.C., at the three-day Kickin' Chicken Classic hosted by Coastal Carolina.
Senior captain Kara Clauss returns to the mound for her final season with the Colonials, and Coach Schramm believes she will be a powerful force to be reckoned with.
"Kara is one of the best pitchers in the conference," Schramm said. "If she stays healthy and hits her targets, I know she will take us far this year."
Clauss posted a 2.38 ERA last season and matched her career-high with nine strike outs against A-10 foe St. Bonaventure. She tallied three shutouts and threw 13 complete games.
Alongside Clauss is Courtney Martin, who made her collegiate debut just one year ago. With one season already under her belt, followed by an impressive 2011 fall campaign, Martin will be looked to as another strong arm for the Colonials.
"Courtney's confidence has done a complete turnaround from her freshman year," said Schramm. "She had a great fall season, and I think she's going to be a huge factor in giving us a reliable arm. She can be devastating on the mound."
Senior Heidi Penna and freshman Chelsey Pedley will also see time on the mound. Schramm refers to Penna as "effectively wild" and believes she will give GW some solid innings. Pedley, a lefty, is consistent in hitting her spots and will mix things up for the pitching staff.
During her rookie season, Curcio appeared in 41 games with 38 starts and recorded a .983 fielding percentage. Dos Santos comes to GW from American Heritage High School in Florida, where she was a two-time all-state catcher, and Saporito, who appeared in 24 games last season, works with the pitchers and prepares them for games.
The Colonials' infield has arguably the most depth with three returners and four newcomers.
Junior Sandi Moynihan is the incumbent at first base for GW, but Schramm and her staff see several challengers for the position. Moynihan is coming off a campaign in which she led the team with 340 putouts and posted a .981 fielding percentage.
"We are giving a lot of players looks at first because we need to develop a sense of consistency," Schramm said. "Becca is a pure athlete and she can play anywhere on the field. I look forward to seeing who steps up when it comes to game time."
Second baseman Julia Orlandi and third baseman Tara Fogarty, both juniors, return to the lineup this season. Orlandi appeared in all but two games last year with 34 starts and posted a .889 fielding percentage. Fogarty recorded 25 hits, nine sacrifice bunts and went 4-for-5 in steals in 43 appearances and 42 starts.
Victoria Valos, a freshman from Bakersfield, Calif., takes the reigns at shortstop, and Schramm has high hopes for the freshman both in the field as well as at the plate.
"Victoria has a ton of range at shortstop, and she is able to cover so much ground," said Schramm. "She is going to be taking away a lot of hits from opponents and help strengthen our infield."
"When you lack strength up the middle, it's tough to play solid defense," said Schramm. "Now we are stronger, faster and more agile. Our improvements in that area are really going to make an impact on our opponents."
Anchoring the outfield this season in center field is sophomore Chelsea Lenhart, who was named to the conference's 2011 All-Rookie Team and was dubbed A-10 Rookie of the Week three times last March. Lenhart was one of only four players to start all 44 contests last year, and she boasted team-highs in runs (24), hits (49), RBIs (27), batting average (.316) and slugging percentage (.432).
Junior Autumn Taylor returns to right field after a career season in 2011, as she was among the team's leaders in slugging percentage (.411) and fielding percentage (.895).
A slew of players could see time in left field, including sophomore Alexandra Del Prete and freshman Alex Thompson. Del Prete saw action in 27 games last season and did not record a single error, while the left-handed Thompson comes to GW with three straight Bay Shore Athletic League titles at Saint Patrick-Saint Vincent High School. Freshman McKinley Tretler and senior Jamie Yaniga add depth to the outfield.
GW opens the 2012 season with a series of tournaments hosted by Coastal Carolina, South Carolina, Auburn and James Madison, in addition to the Colonial Classic at Mount Vernon Softball Field. Just prior to the Colonial Classic, GW hosts a non-conference double header with Drexel.
"The team is excited to start the season with a great schedule filled with competition from 10 difference conferences," Schramm said. "We want to get used to playing high competition so by the time A-10 play begins we will be more than prepared."
The Colonials' host back-to-back contests with Hampton and Georgetown on March 20 and 22 before opening conference play at home against Fordham. GW travels to nearby UMBC to close out March before hosting Charlotte on April 1. The Colonials hit the road for an A-10 swing at Temple, Saint Joseph's and George Mason from April 5-11, and play host to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, La Salle, Dayton and George Mason from April 13-25. GW wraps up the regular season on the road at St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis.
"The conference is very competitive and there are a lot of tough teams trying to get to the top," said Schramm. "We have an edge, though, because of our tough non-conference schedule. I think we have the opportunity to have a breakout season."
The Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament is hosted by the Billikens from May 9-12, in Saint Louis, Mo.