Rock softball gets rolling with tournament play after trip to South Carolina

Published by The Rocket, Author: Stephen Cukovich - Assistant Sports Editor, Date: February 21, 2018
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Rock softball season officially got underway last weekend when the team traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for their first tournament and action of the season going 3-2 in their first five contests.

SRU was picked to finish second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division in this season’s preseason coaches poll which was announced by the league office on Feb. 1. Seton Hill University (1-1) took the first place slot, while Gannon University (0-0) followed The Rock at number three.

“We have a lot to prove still,” SRU softball head coach Stacey Rice said.  “It’s just more of a respect I think that we get from your peers, from your teams that are surrounding you that they recognize that we are not to be messed with… to me that’s all I see that is.”

The Rock first faced against West Virginia State University (5-4) last Friday getting the win 4-3, and later in the day squared off against Saint Anselm College (4-1) and squeaked off another one-run victory 5-4.

On Saturday the Green and White weren’t able to keep up with Wilmington University (4-2), as they shut out The Rock 5-0.  SRU was then able to turn it around later in the day as they stomped Felician College (1-4) at 11-3 in just five innings played.  In their final game on Sunday, The Rock found themselves in another one-run game, but on the other end, losing 2-1 against University of New Haven (3-2).

“We did pop up a lot so kind of adjusting our angles, adjusting our focus…more of a mental sharpness,” Rice said.  “But I think overall I was really pleased with the pitching, defense, and offense of our game.”

For the 2018 season, The Rock welcomes eight new freshmen to the team with infielder Lydia Baird, first baseman Adeline Nicholson, outfielders Julia Cepis and Courtney Claypoole, utility player Becca Roesch, pitcher Camie Shucker, and catchers Leah Vith and Haley Wells.  Coach Rice mentioned she is happy with the incoming freshman class because they will add a new level of competitiveness within the team.

“This freshman class, even though some of them may not be starting, they are pushing our seniors and so we are getting our best version of all of our ballplayers,” Rice said.  “Because they’ve come in here and just set the tone, so it’s exciting to see the best versions of everybody.”

Of the freshmen, Shumaker was the one who shined over this past weekend as she recorded her first career win, along with 6.2 shutout innings in relief, on her way to earning PSAC West Pitcher of the Week with her performance.  Rice hopes with the addition of Shumaker, she will add some relief to not only number one pitcher senior Brooke Dawson, but others as well.

“I’m hoping she’s taking the pressure off our entire pitching staff,” Rice said. “I’m not sure what her role is gonna be. Right now we’re using her in relief, mainly just to give her some experience; I don’t want to throw her into the lion’s den quite yet, but if she evolves into a starting pitcher, then yeah she is going to see some time.”

Along with Dawson, the other returning pitchers include junior Andria Copelli and senior Paige Flore.  In the field, The Rock returns seven starting players which including seniors Emily Nagle, Lauren Hawley, Allie Fischer, McKenzie garland,  juniors Megan Brown and Kailey Myers, and sophomore Alexa Guglielmino.

Up next for The Rock comes a trip to South Chesterfield, Va. to take on Virginia State University (0-0) with a pair of doubleheaders; the first of the games kicking off at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday and the other doubleheader on Sunday with the first game at 10:00 a.m.

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