Feb. 22, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC - The Colonials softball team, now under the leadership of first-year head coach Kim Staehle, kick off their 2007 season tomorrow afternoon in the three-day Mercer Classic in Macon, GA. This tournament will be somewhat of a homecoming for fifth-year senior, Elana Meyers, who grew up roughly an hour away from Mercer in Douglasville. GW opens their schedule with the Oakland Grizzlies, who also will be making their season debut, at 12:30 pm. At 5:30 pm, the Colonials will face the hosting Mercer Bears who enter the tournament at 2-6. On Saturday, GW will take on the Austin Peay Lady Govs who made their season debut on Wednesday afternoon sweeping Division II member, Kentucky Wesleyan. Following the match-up with the Lady Govs, the Colonials will have pool play on Saturday and Sunday to determine the winner of the Classic. The schedule for this weekend is as follows:
Friday, February 23
10:00 am: Austin Peay vs. Oakland
12:30 pm: Oakland vs. GW
3:00 pm: Mercer vs. Austin Peay
5:30 pm: Mercer vs. GW
Saturday, February 24
10:00 am: GW vs. Austin Peay
12:30 pm: Mercer vs. Oakland
3:00 pm: 2nd place vs. 3rd place
5:30 pm: 1st place vs. 4th place
Sunday, February 25
10:00 am: Loser 2nd Place/3rd Place vs. Loser 1st Place/4th Place
1:00 pm: Winner 1st Place/4th Place vs. Winner 2nd Place/3rd Place
2007 SEASON OUTLOOK
The George Washington softball program comes into its fifth season of existence
with a new set of coaches, and higher expectations than ever before. First-year
head coach Kim Staehle takes over a team that returns all of its starters from last season's 10th place finish in the Atlantic 10. With 16 letter-winners returning from last season, and a talented class of newcomers, there is a lot of depth, which could prove useful in a program-high 55-game schedule and should cause favorable match-ups in late innings of games. After being picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll, which would qualify the Colonials for their first conference tournament, much of the Atlantic 10 will not be taking GW lightly and should provide for another exciting season of Colonials softball.
The pitching staff should be very strong this season with a strong rotation of five hurlers on the mound. The circle will be anchored by junior Katie Miller (8-4, 2.77 ERA). Miller throws hard and commands a dominant changeup, which should keep opposing batters off balance. "Keeping Katie healthy will be key to our success this season. We need her leadership on the mound and will have to find ways to keep her out there. She also brings the most experience out there so we will rely on her to help freshman Amanda Gabriel develop," Staehle said. Juniors, Lisa Cohen (1 CBO, 1 HR, .348 OBP) and Jen Hrycyna (4-9, 4.13 ERA), as well as sophomore Carrie Higdon (12 GP, 6 Runs) should provide additional support defensively in the circle. "These three all have unique strengths which complement each other so well. My hopes are to rotate them accordingly and perhaps institute a closer into our system, which could prove successful," Staehle said. "I'm confident these ladies can work hard to stay ahead of their batters and paint the corners of the plate mixing all of their weapons." Gabriel should make the biggest impact in the circle. Hailing from the Orange County, CA, Lionettes competitive travel team, Gabriel has good velocity with a strong command of her pitches. "Amanda has already been challenged to step up her play immediately. I really don't think of her as a freshman and told her to elevate her skills quickly because we would need her athleticism on the mound. She should strive to be a day-to-day starter and if she continues to work hard she should be counted upon heavily in A-10 play this year," Staehle said.
Like the majority of the roster, GW returns an abundance of experience, talent and depth in the infield. Higdon, Caroline Howe(.288, 2 HR, 26 RBI) and Kaity Harbour (.259, 11 RBI) will manage the corner infield positions this season at first and third base. Higdon saw limited action last year because of the depth the Colonials had last season. However, Carrie stepped up her game so much in the fall that Staehle will have no choice but to play her. In 2006, Higdon showed she had great speed and power to the gaps as both of her two hits went for extra bases. Howe, who has rotated between first and third base much of her first two seasons, should see a majority of her time at the hot corner this year. She is also very consistent at the plate finishing among the team leaders in several categories. Howe will also be looked upon for veteran leadership as she was named one of the team's captains for 2007. Harbour will push for a start at first base or see action behind the plate. Junior Hilary King (.253, 5 HR, 20 RBI) and sophomore Tori Sensi (.323, .353 OBP), will battle for time at second base. In 2006, her first season with the Colonials after transferring from Rutgers, King showed the ability to be a stopper on the field, and also showed great power at the plate, slugging five home runs. Batting cleanup this season should provide King with even more run producing chances this year. Sensi appeared in a majority of games last year as a defensive replacement but also showed some punch with the bat. Her speed and knack for getting on base will be vital to the Colonials' success this season. Fifth-year co-captain, Elana Meyers (.414, 4 HR, 29 RBI) is back for her final season at GW. Meyers who was the first recruit in the program's history will help provide GW with excellent leadership and combine with King to form a formidable double-play combination up the middle. The shortstop has very high expectations for herself this season, even after leading the conference with a .414 batting average and seven triples, en route to being named Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete of the Year in 2006. Meyers is also now known across fast-pitch nation after being named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All- American first team. The program record holder in virtually every offensive statistic will once again be a triple threat at the plate in the leadoff position. Harbour and senior Nikki Brooks (.300, 20 runs) will also add depth to the corners and could see time at designated player. Harbour is a great defensive player at first base and will provide some pop off the bench. Brooks, who has great defensive skills, can play third base, but will be used mainly behind the plate.
The outfield returns a lot of depth and two regular starters from the 2006 season are back in an outfield that will look somewhat different this season. Junior
Jackie Yaniga, (.295, 6 HR, 27 RBI) who had solidified her position in center field last year, will be challenged by senior Janelle Parker (12 GS, 12 runs). Yaniga, who led the team with six home runs last season, also displays great range and a strong arm in the field. A part-time starter last season, Parker showed the ability to make the diving catch all over the outfield. She also impressed the coaching staff this fall by showing some pop with the bat as well. Moving to right field this season is junior Chrysanthi Halkiotis (.286, 1 HR, 22 RBI). Among the leaders in many offensive categories in 2006, "Kree" batted .286 and nothing less is expected this year. She has a great knowledge of the game and has the ability to throw runners out from her position. Providing depth in the outfield are several versatile players who can play multiple positions. Miller will see time as the fourth outfielder at both corner outfield positions while not in the circle. She is very rangy in the field and should provide a consistent bat at the plate. Cohen and junior Katy Harrigan (.357, .500 OBP), will also see time in the outfield. Harrigan is a good defensive player with a high game I.Q. She also showed capability at the plate while batting .357 in 16 games. Freshman Amanda Holst should also see time in the corner outfield positions. Her work ethic has helped her improve tremendously in the fall and she should cause some problems for opponents on the base path this season.
BEHIND THE PLATE
The Colonials return all three catchers from last season and all are expected to contribute this season in various capacities. Brooks will start the season as the
starting catcher after a solid 2006 season. The former Ohio Bobcat was one of only two Colonials to hit .300 or better last year and that average should pick up while providing protection to Meyers in the lineup in the two-spot. She is very good defensively and will be looked upon to command a pitching staff that combined for a 3.60 ERA last year. Also competing for time is junior Colleen Kegler and redshirt freshman Elisa Van Kirk. Kegler, while the most experienced, has struggled with nagging injuries throughout her career. She is solid defensively and can deliver the clutch hit. Van Kirk missed all of last season with a knee injury. She has the best arm and a powerful bat but will be limited defensively. She should see time as a pinch hitter this season. Also adding depth to the position is Harbour and sophomore walk-on Lily Rogers. Rogers has made tremendous strides as a hitter and should provide some solid power at the plate. Harbour also has the capability to play behind the plate and could push for time.
The Colonials have a competitive non-conference schedule throughout the season, which should prepare them for the rigors of Atlantic 10 play. The Colonials open 2007 at the Mercer Ramada Inn Classic in Macon, GA, against Mercer, Oakland and Austin Peay. The three-day tournament (Feb. 23-25) will be somewhat of a homecoming for Elana Meyers as her hometown of Douglasville, GA, is about an hour away. GW will not get much recovery time when it hosts its home opener against UMBC on Feb. 27. The Colonials will then host their annual Colonial Classic (March 2-4) against Army, Colgate, Canisius and Longwood before traveling first to Towson, then Kissimmee, FL, for the Rebel Spring
Games (March 11-15). GW has a very competitive draw in the Spring Games with the highlight possibly being a showdown versus Mississippi Valley State, an NCAA qualifier last season. The Colonials will host cross-town rival Georgetown when they return home on March 18 before kicking off A-10 play at La Salle on March 20. GW's conference home opener is set for April 5-6 versus Saint Joseph's. Throughout conference play, the Colonials have scheduled five non-conference games (Mount St. Mary's, James Madison, Maryland, St. Francis [PA] and Coppin State) in twin bills. GW closes out its regular season at home versus Saint Louis on Saturday, May 5. The Atlantic 10 Tournament is scheduled for May 9-12 in Amherst, MA, with the top six teams from the conference qualifying.