Slippery Rock softball will begin it’s season down south when the team travels to South Carolina for the Myrtle Beach Softball Tournament on February 17th and 18th, as the group looks to improve their 20-23 record from last season.
The Green and White are picked to finish second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West division to start the season.
Stacey Rice will enter her third year as The Rock’s softball head coach, alongside assistant Ashley Carter.
The Rock will have a lot of familiar faces coming back this season, especially in the infield.
Behind the plate will be junior Lauren Hawley, who started 35 of 37 games last season with a .198 batting average and nine runs batted in (RBI).
“I’m extremely optimistic about the up coming season,” Rice said. “I’m hopeful that it is going to be the pitchers who carry the team on their shoulders this season.”
At first base will be junior Allie Fischer, who notched eight RBI with a batting average of .236 as she started all 43 games last season.
Starting at second base will be sophomore Megan Brown. Last season, Brown started 25 of 35 games and earned a .290 batting average, with five RBIs.
Defending the left side of the infield will be sophomore Kailey Myers at shortstop and senior Caitlin Baxter at third. Myers started just three games last season and appeared in nine total. She was able to manage a .200 batting average. Baxter, the oldest on the infield, started 41 of 42 games last season, with a batting average of .260 and 23 RBIs.
Slippery Rock will welcome one transfer to the team, junior infielder Aubrie Martin from La Roche College. Martin batted .403 (48-119) with 16 doubles and 34 runs batted in at La Roche last season. Martin’s hits, doubles and runs batted in would lead all returners on this year’s roster.
In the outfield, junior Emily Nagle will retain her center field position, where she started all 43 games last season with a .312 batting average and 12 RBIs. In the corners of the outfield, however, is where coach Rice still has some decisions to make.
“Outfield is still suspect,” Rice said. “But I can guarantee Emily Nagle will be our starting center fielder.”
Contending for playing time in the outfield will be senior Nicole Siciliano, junior Amanda Bush, sophomore Caitlyn Mackelvey and freshman Alexa Guglielmino.
The pitching rotation will pick up right where it left off last year with junior Brooke Dawnson leading the charge. Dawson ended last season with a 9-3 record, a team best earned run average (ERA) of 2.51, along with 87 strikeouts. Senior Carly Derose, who had a 8-9 record last season, with a 2.72 ERA, and 82 strike outs will also be back.
“I want to make it back to PSACs,” Dawnson said. “We proved to ourselves that we can get there, so now we just need to compete when we get there.”
Next in the rotation would be junior Paige Flore, who landed a 3-5 record last season, with a 4.98 ERA, and 21 strikeouts. Sophomore Andria Copalli will also be tossed in the starting rotation or in reliever form.
“We kind of used each pitcher in different ways based on the team we were playing last season,” Rice said. “However, I always like to ride the pitcher who is hot.”
The Rock will battle against West Virginia State University, Kutztown University, Southern New Hampshire University, University of New Haven and Shippensburg University when the team travels to South Carolina next week.