GW Softball Opens 2011 Season at Spartan Invitational
Feb. 24, 2011
NORFOLK, VA --The George Washington softball team opens the 2011 season on the road in the two-day Spartan Invitational hosted by Norfolk State, Feb. 25 and 26. GW will take on Monmouth at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday at the NSU Softball Field, before taking on host NSU at 11 a.m.
The Colonials, led by first-year head coach Stacey Schramm, return to action on Sunday to take on Iona at 1:00 p.m. and Fairleigh Dickinson at 5:00 p.m.
Junior hurler Kara Clauss returns at the top of the GW staff. In 2010, she posted a 5-21 record with seven complete games in 110 and a third innings pitched. Clauss led the youthful staff with 84 strikeouts and 38 walks.
Senior Ali Pardo and junior Heidi Penna will pick up key relief innings for the Buff and Blue in 2011. Pardo battled back from a wrist injury to make five late-season relief appearances for the Colonials in 2010. Penna stepped up in her second season with the Colonials, tossing 83.1 innings in 29 appearances with nine starts. Penna, who struck out 52 batters and walked 48, was able to come into some tough situations and end the innings for the Colonials.
Freshman Courtney Martin comes to GW after posting a 1.91 earned run average for the Tempe, AZ, Xavier Prep Gators in her senior season in 2010. Martin will add depth to the Colonial's pitching staff.
"Kara has a tremendous presence on the mound," said Schramm. "Heidi and Courtney provide finesse and rely on their movement to keep hitters off balance, while Ali gives us the opportunity to change things up and will provide relief when needed."
"Our catchers are the leaders of the field," said Schramm. "Jillian has done an excellent job of taking control of the game. Chelsea will certainly give Jill competition. Both are very strong defensively."
Sophomores Kristi Saporito and Tara Fogarty caught many of the back half of double headers. Both back-up catchers earned playing time in the infield and outfield as well. Saporito got some playing time as a designated hitter, while Fogarty played a few games at first base.
Also looking to earn some playing time is freshman Chelsea Curcio. Curcio helped the South River, NJ, Trojans to four NJSIAA Non-Public South A Sectional titles from behind the plate.
"Our infielders realize their responsibility is to make the routine plays," said Schramn. "They are working hard on becoming fundamentally sound."
Junior Jordyn O'Donnell and sophomore Julie Orlandi gained experience working together at the middle infield positions last season. O'Donnell got the start in 43 of 44 games at shortstop and collected seven hits during a five-game span from in late April. Orlandi over took the job at second base early in the season as the Colonials looked for a way to get her lefty bat and speed on the bases into the line-up.
Sophomore Sandi Moynihan will defend her starting position at first base. She came into last season looking to improve her defensive skills at the corner positions and help the team offensively. Moynihan had six multi-hit games, including homeruns against Michigan State and Mount St. Mary's.
"We have a lot of utility players," said Schramm. "When Tara is not catching, nothing gets by her at third base, while Chelsea Curcio will most likely see some innings at second base. It gives us a lot of options having such a versatile squad."
"Whoever is hitting will find time in the outfield. It's a tough competition because all provide an offensive threat," said Scrhamm. "The outfielders are our most aggressive group. They are always looking to make a great play."
Junior Jamie Yaniga and sophomores Autumn Taylor and Amanda Zakeri rotated as platoon outfielders in left field last season after junior Ali Waterman sat out the season after having to undergo knee surgery.
Taylor found her long ball stroke against Army and led the team with three homeruns in 2010. Yangia appeared in 33 games with 24 starts. Zakeri's speed was utilized on the base paths early in the season as she collected two stolen bases in four attempts and scored five runs for the Colonials.
Key non-conference battles with Princeton and Cornell will take place at Mount Vernon Field in mid-March. Cornell returns to the schedule for the first time since the Colonials inaugural season in 2003. It will be the first-ever match up between the Princeton and GW squads.
The Colonials are set to renew rivalries against DC-metro teams playing at Georgetown and exchanging a home and home with George Mason. GW is looking to revenge the losses suffered last season to the Hoyas and Patriots.
The Atlantic 10 Conference schedule will kick off early in the season when St. Bonaventure heads to Mount Vernon Field for two games on March 22. The Colonials will travel to face Dayton, Fordham, Charlotte, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and La Salle. GW will host Saint Joseph's, Temple, and Saint Louis for conference games this season.
The 2011 Atlantic 10 Softball Championship will be hosted by Charlotte at the D.L. Phillips Softball Complex on May 11-14.