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The Quakers lost 1-4 to the St. Joseph Hawks at Warren Field on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Penn's only run was scored early in the game, while the Hawks continued to score through the end of the game. Alisha Prystowsky Credit: Michael Chien

At the beginning of last season, the women’s softball team was in flux. Four players had quit the team, including ace Jessie Lupardus, one of the best pitchers in the league.

Despite the losses, the final results from the 2009 season and the 2010 season were hardly distinguishable. The Quakers finished second in the four-team South Division both years and actually ended up with a better Ivy League record in 2010, garnering two more conference wins than they had the previous season.

This year, the Red and Blue start the season controversy-free and with a robust 22-player roster, including six freshmen.

“We have a lot of depth,” coach Leslie King said. “We’ve got a pretty large squad so that’s enabled us to have a lot of healthy competition within the squad for starting places.”

Among the freshmen, King expects three to earn positions in the starting lineup right away — third baseman Kayla Dahlerbruch, outfielder Elysse Gorney and right-handed pitcher Mikenzie Voves.

Gorney and fellow freshman Georgia Guttaduaro are among just four left-handed hitters on the roster. These left-handed bats will be especially important as the Quakers look to defeat two-time defending champion Cornell and its right-handed reigning Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Elizabeth Dalrymple.

Not only is the squad strong athletically, the team-dynamic problems that have plagued the softball program in the past no longer seem to be an issue.

“[The] coaches really made every effort to promote team chemistry,” junior Justine Payne said. “Even though we have a relatively large team … I feel like everyone’s making that extra effort to get to know everyone else on the team.”

“Sometimes people don’t get along, sometimes people don’t fit in for whatever reason,” King said. “But we work hard to try and foster an environment that’s fun [and] hard working.”

Payne also noted that last year the team had no further problems with personal issues.

“We didn’t have an issue with it last year, and I don’t see it being an issue again this year,” she said.

As the Quakers head south to Florida to begin spring training, players will be competing for starting positions.

“We use Florida as a chance to figure our starting lineup out for Ivy League [and] what our best and most defensive lineups are,” King said.

“Nobody’s felt that they can just sit back on their heels,” senior catcher Alisha Prystowsky said. “[The freshmen] have come in on fire. They’re ready to take the spots.”

Buffered by an experienced roster as well as promising new freshmen, the team’s expectations are high going into this season.

“I fully expect us to take Ivy,” Payne said.

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