The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

The Penn softball team finished last season with just a 13-30-1 record. And the Quakers finished in the Ivy cellar with only two league wins. Many teams would be disheartened by this result. Not the Quakers. After last year's growing pains, the team looks to regain a level of competitiveness that Penn has not had for a while. The program has not seen the sunny side of .500 in the Ivies since 1982 -- the same year that two members of this year's team were born. But this could finally be the season that the Quakers shake the label of "rebuilding" and establish themselves as a winning program. Penn boasts a solid nucleus that was recruited by coach Carol Kashow. Kashow has been rebuilding the Penn program since she arrived in 1997. With no seniors on this young team, a solid core of juniors will be looked on to provide leadership. Patrolling the outfield for Penn will be junior co-captains Clarisa Apostol and Lindsay Wagner. Apostol, the team's starting left fielder, was second on the team in batting average and runs last year and was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection. Wagner's smooth fielding style will be an asset to the Quakers in center field. "We have a relatively young team," Kashow said. "[Apostol and Wagner] have done a great job of leading the team." Sophomore Deborah Kowalchuk rounds out Penn's outfield. Pacing the Quakers' lineup again this season will be first team All-Ivy third baseman Jen Moore. The star junior made Mid-Atlantic All-Region and was a Strength and Conditioning All-American last year. Moore led the Quakers in virtually every offensive category, finishing first in batting average (.331), hits, doubles, on-base percentage and home runs. She set the all-time Penn mark for hits in a season with 45 and is already Penn's career doubles leader. Moore also posted a .949 fielding percentage at the notoriously difficult hot corner. Joining Moore on the left side of the Quakers infield is sophomore Crista Farrell, who as a freshman led the team with nine stolen bases. Her base running skills will be showcased in the lead-off position this year. Junior Jamie Pallas will again be counted on to patrol second base. Freshman Veronica Richardson and sophomore Erica Miller will split time at first base. Junior Molly Meehan is Penn's top utility infielder. Sophomores Heidi Albrecht and Danielle Landolt will handle the catching duties for the Red and Blue. The Quakers' offense, which at times last season struggled to produce runs, may need to lean on its young stable of pitchers. Sophomores Becky Ranta and Dina Parise return after impressive first seasons. Ranta was the team MVP after posting a 9-12 record and leading the team with a 4.17 ERA. Parise was a valuable contributor out of the bullpen and as a spot starter. Joining them are freshmen roommates Nicole Borgstadt and Alexandra Martini. "One of our strong points is defense, and we can expect some exciting things from the pitching staff," Kashow said. "The freshmen will contribute right away. That's why we recruited them." The Quakers will need to maintain their strong defensive play while improving on last season's pitching and hitting performances. In 2000, Penn was last in the Ivies in team batting average and ERA. "We've spent a lot of time hitting, and the players have worked hard in the weightroom in the off season," Kashow said. "Hopefully it will help them get through a tough and rugged season." "Offensively, I think we're much improved compared to last year simply because of experience," Moore added. The attempts to find a balance in hitting, pitching and fielding seem to be paying off early for the team. The Red and Blue surged to a 7-4 record in exhibition contests in the fall. "Our fall season was our best one yet with Carol as coach," Wagner said. "Everyone contributed offensively and defensively." Borgstadt was on the mound for a particularly impressive win over Big East powerhouse Rutgers. "The real reason we won was the team," Borgstadt said. "They played great defense behind me and scored the runs that we needed." Penn is hoping to carry its success over into the regular season, especially in April when it opens Ivy play against Harvard and Dartmouth. "I firmly believe we are capable of finishing above .500," Moore said. "This team simply has to execute the fundamentals and play hard and with heart. "We're going to win more games than we ever have in Penn history."

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.