GW Softball Opens 2009 Season At Carolina Classic
Feb. 13, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC - The George Washington University softball team opens up its 2009 in the Carolina Classic Friday against North Carolina at 4:00 p.m. in Chapel Hill, NC. The Colonials also face Penn State and California on Saturday and faces Wichita State for the first time in program history on Sunday.
The Colonials return pitching ace and junior co-captain Amanda Gabriel on the mound and sophomore and Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team performer Katie Terrazas at third base. Seniors Carrie Higdon and co-captain Tori Sensi will return to pitching and second base, respectively, for GW.
GW opens the home portion of the 2009 season with a double header on Feb. 24 against University of Maryland-Baltimore County at the Mount Vernon Softball Field at 1 p.m., before going on the road to face Virginia on Feb. 28 and March 1 with games both days at 1 p.m.
2009 Season Outlook
After falling just short of qualifying for the program's first ever back-to-back appearances in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the Colonials softball team is eager to return to postseason action. The Colonials have lined up some of the strongest teams in the country for the regular season this year, not only testing the team, but the eight younger members that are new to the team, many of whom will be called upon to step up immediately.
"I knew we would be very young this spring, yet we wanted to test our strengths and weaknesses early," head coach Kim Staehle said. "By exposing our players to some of the best Pac-10, ACC and Big East teams, we are very confident our level of play will be that much better for our conference schedule."
This season the pitching staff is expected to be very strong with four potential starting hurlers for the Colonials. Junior co-captain Amanda Gabriel will be the ace of the staff, after finishing the 2008 season with an 11-18 record and being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team. Hard-throwing and consistent in the circle, Gabriel has proven to be the Colonials' "go-to" performer. "She brings a tremendous amount of experience to the circle and will be relied on heavily with her experience and leadership," Staehle said.
Transitioning back to the circle for her senior season is Carrie Higdon. After filling in at many different positions for the Colonials in 2008, Higdon only appeared in 12 games at pitcher with five starts (0-4). She stole a team-high 11 bases and was called on to sacrifice eight times. "Carrie does a terrific job of mixing things up for us and can plug a hole when needed with her consistency," Staehle said. "She has always been one of our most unselfish performers playing numerous roles on the field." Higdon's versatility will cause a welcome problem with regard to where to play her, but her pure athleticism will get her in the line-up.
The Colonials already have suffered one loss to their line-up, as sophomore Ali Pardo will miss the 2009 season while recovering from shoulder surgery, but two freshmen, Kara Clauss and Heidi Penna, should make a big impact in the circle. Both hail from the Sunshine State, Clauss from Davie, FL, and Penna from Miami, and both have impressive competitive travel team exposure and will provide strong support at the pitcher position.
BEHIND THE PLATE
Depth at catcher, with junior redshirt Elisa Van Kirk and freshmen Jillian Stanley and Lauren Wilson, will provide a tremendous amount of strength to the Colonials. Van Kirk had an excellent year behind the plate and at the plate for GW. She hit six home runs, batted in 18 runs and stayed healthy to start all 39 games. Van Kirk also threw out 31 of 36 runners. Stanley, from Mission Viejo, CA, and Wilson, from nearby Arlington, VA, both look to get their bats in the lineup and push for playing time.
The Colonials' infield will once again be anchored by senior co-captain Tori Sensi. Sensi started all 39 games at second base last season, providing a consistent glove in the middle of the infield. "Tori has become our team leader on the diamond," Staehle said. "We are a better team with her on the field."
The GW outfield will be anchored by junior center fielder Amanda Holst, who started 38 games, most of them in right field, and hit .225 from the eighth spot in the line-up. "Amanda will bring us some much-needed leadership in the outfield and serve as our field general," Staehle said. "She is very vocal and our younger players will certainly learn from her very quickly."
The two corner outfield spots will be up for grabs this spring. Gabriel will see some time in left when she isn't in the circle, as well as freshmen Wilson, Jamie Yaniga (Miami, FL), Ali Waterman (Oak Park, IL), Jordyn O'Donnell (Irving, TX) and Clauss. "Our freshmen will have some opportunities to make an impact in a variety of spots, including the outfield," Staehle said. "We expect our freshmen to compete at the plate for playing time, which will greatly impact our outfield look."
GW opens the 2009 season with a difficult challenge on the field when the Colonials play in the Carolina Classic, facing preseason No. 17 California and No. 18 North Carolina in tournament play. The Colonials will continue to test themselves when they travel to Virginia for a three-game series against the Cavaliers. GW travels to the South Florida Under Armour Classic, where the Colonials will face South Florida, Long Island, Boston University, Florida International and East Tennessee State. With the regular-season schedule that Staehle has put together, the Colonials will certainly be tested early and should be stronger when they open Atlantic 10 Conference play against Charlotte March 20. GW opens its home schedule with UMBC Feb. 24. Early in March, GW hosts Army and Pittsburgh in the Colonial Classic, a two-day round-robin tournament.