The young Quakers feature two sophomores who were All-Ivy in their rookie year. For the members of the Penn softball team, a trip to Florida over spring break means much more than just a chance to enjoy some nice weather and relax. The Quakers will head to the Sunshine State this weekend to open their season. With two tournaments and a total of 14 games on the schedule, this trip to the South is anything but a vacation for the squad. There is plenty of reason for optimism when it comes to this year's Quakers. After a 1999 campaign which saw Penn show marked improvement and with some talented young prospects, there is much excitement surrounding the upcoming season. "We are obviously still a pretty young team, but we have a lot of talent," Penn head coach Carol Kashow said. "We gained a lot of experience from last year and we have some really good players joining this year, so we're definitely ready to go." Eight players return from last year's squad, which finished 15-22 overall and 4-8 in the Ivy League. Among the returning players are two sophomore first team All-Ivy selections from a year ago, third baseman Jen Moore and outfielder Clarisa Apostol. With the abundance of youth on the team, the squad's three seniors will have to take active leadership roles if the team is to succeed. "We do only have three seniors and a lot of freshmen and sophomores," Kashow said. "But we're not too concerned about that because I'm confident that we'll get some really good leadership from our seniors." The team will quickly find out just how ready for the season they really are. Starting tomorrow, Penn plays two games a day until next Friday, every day except Wednesday. "It's nice that we will have one day off during the week," senior pitcher Suzanne Arbogast said. "I'm sure we'll find some way to enjoy ourselves that day, probably go to a theme park or something." Penn's first game of the season will be against Providence. The squad will wrap things up a week later against Tennessee Tech. "This trip to Florida is a great way for us to open the season," Kashow said. "We have been practicing a lot, and we are anxious to get out there and start playing in some games. With so many games in a week, we should really learn a lot about our team." Although the Ivy League season for Penn doesn't get underway until April 14, the Quakers are quick to point out the importance of winning some games early on in the year. "We're not really going down there with the attitude that we just want to prepare for the rest of the season or anything like that," senior outfielder Michelle Zaptin said. "We're excited to play, and we really want to win a bunch of games." The Quakers' success, especially at this early juncture in the season, could hinge on how well the the newest members of the Red and Blue adjust to the collegiate level. "Our eight freshmen have been doing a great job in practice," Zaptin said. "They really seem to be fitting in and I think that they are going to make big contributions to the success of our team." One key for the Red and Blue will be their pitching. With the third-best fielding in the Ivy League and hitting that should be consistent, pitching seems to be the squad's major area of concern. "The one thing that I will ask of the pitchers is to give our defense a chance to play," Kashow said. "But I'm confident in our pitchers and I think that they will do just fine down in Florida and for the rest of the season." If Penn's pitching improves and the fielding and hitting remain solid, the team that finished up last place in the Ivies a mere two years ago could be on pace to surprise some teams in 2000.Comments powered by Disqus
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