GREENVILLE, S.C. (Feb. 9, 2007) - After last season's late success the ETSU softball team will look to carry the momentum over into the 2007 campaign as they get set to take on Furman in its season-opener this Saturday. First pitch of the doubleheader is slated for 1 p.m. at Pepsi Field. Please read the season preview below for more information regarding the 2007 Bucs.
2007 Softball Outlook:
After winning seven of its last eight games to close out the 2006 regular season, the ETSU softball team carried the momentum into the Atlantic Sun Tournament and finished one game shy of making tournament championship. Despite the third-place finish, the Bucs made tremendous strides during the season as they were picked to finish 10th in the A-Sun preseason poll and ended tied for sixth at the end of the 2006 campaign.
Entering year two at the helm, head ETSU softball coach Andrea Mangrum and her staff hope to carry the momentum into the 2007 season and look to build off last year's late success. The Bucs will have new look this season as they lost 10 letterwinners from the squad they had a year ago, but Mangrum's staff was busy in the off-season as they brought in eight talented freshmen to fill the gaps. The Bucs can expect to get solid performances from their returning players as senior Stephanie Gaynord (Manassas, Va.) looks to end her career on a high note. Also joining Gaynord will be juniors Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.), Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) and Stephanie Cope (Maryville, Tenn.) as they will help carry the load for the Bucs this season.
"As a coach you always preach to your kids to finish strong, we want to start strong and keep climbing throughout the season," added head coach Mangrum. "We were preseason picked at sixth in the Conference this year so that tells me two things: We have earned respect from last season's late success, and we will over achieve what is expected of us from our conference opponents."
Below is a breakdown of each ETSU player and what the Buccaneers can expect from them this season.
Stephanie Gaynord (SS)- Top returnee from last year and the team MVP, Gaynord also broke the single season homerun record. She started every game last season at short, and led the team offensively with a .313 batting average. The senior broke the single season record in home runs (11) and slugging percentage (.593). Gaynord is the team captain, and can expect an even better year in 2007 as she enters her final season at ETSU.
Allison Burnette (Ten Mile, Tenn.) INF - As one of the only two seniors on the team, Burnette is a leader and team captain. She is a true team player, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get her team to succeed. Burnette will be competing for a starting spot at first this upcoming season.
Stephanie Cope (OF) - Cope improved tremendously throughout last year's season both offensively and defensively, while playing in 50 games and starting in 47. She shared time in the outfield and will compete for a spot out there this season.
Amanda Haverman (P/OF) - Haverman had numerous game winning hits last year for the Bucs, including two against Stetson. ETSU was the only conference team to sweep the Hatters in the regular season. Her primary role is designated hitter, and she did an excellent job keeping the Bucs in some big games last season. As a second-year player, she was named to Georgia Tech's all-tournament team, as well as receiving Player of the Week honors in the A-Sun.
Briana Knight (2B/OF) - Started every game at 2B last year, and was very strong and consistent last season at the plate and on the field. Knight was named to Winthrop's all-tournament team, while finishing second on the team in offense (.292 batting average). She was also named the offensive Player of the Year for the Bucs last year, and is one of the team captains this year for ETSU.
Brittany Richardson (Knoxville, Tenn.) C - Was injured most of the year last year but had a couple of crucial pinch hits for the Bucs, including a game winning hit against Radford. Her enthusiasm is contagious to the team.
Jessica Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) 3B - Started every game as a freshman last year at third base, and had an exceptional rookie campaign both at the plate and on the field. Hackworth led team with 35 RBIs and was the Rookie of the Year for the Bucs last season.
Kate Powell (Johnson City) CF - Worked her way into a stating position in the outfield last season, and was a key component to the strong finish last season with her defensive skills in center. Powell is one of the fastest players on the roster this year so the Bucs will be expecting that speed to be a crucial component in its success in 2007.
Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) P - Vercoe was named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team and took home Pitcher of the Year honors for the Bucs in her rookie season. She made a huge impact as a freshman both on the mound and at the plate. She jacked five home runs and posted a .432 slugging percentage, while winning 10 games for the Bucs last year on the mound. The 10 wins led ETSU and ranked 10th in the conference.
Caitlin Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) OF - She competed in 37 games (26 starts) last season, all coming in the outfield. The freshman racked up some big hits against Belmont last season to help secure two conference wins. She will compete again this year for an outfield position, and has a ton of power offensively that the Bucs will need against some of their tougher opponents.
Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) SS/OF - Cason is yet another versatile player on the Bucs' roster this season, as she can play at short and in the outfield. Speed is her asset; she can hit from the left and right side of the plate. She had a great fall and will do some great things for the Bucs this season as a freshman.
Whitney Compton (Bee, Va.) P - A raw talent on the mound, Compton throws the ball hard and will be a picture-perfect closer for ESTU this season. She has developed very well as a pitcher since arriving to the team in the fall.
Desire Franklin (Lawrenceville, Ga.) 1B - She will be a very powerful player for the Bucs, as she brings strengths as a hitter, catcher, first and third baseman. Her strong arm and powerful bat will be a huge asset to ETSU on both sides of the field this spring.
Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro) P/INF - Another addition for the 2007 pitching staff, she played for a very strong high school program at Oliver Springs High School. Gilbert will bring that winning mentality to the mound for the Bucs. She pitched very well this fall and she can expect to pitch some big games as a freshman this year.
Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) 1B/3B/P - Hardy is a very well-rounded athlete as she can see time both on the corners and on the mound in 2007. She is a much-disciplined hitter and is at the top of her game both offensively and defensively heading into this upcoming season. The freshman is a mature player that will contribute right away.
Katy Jett (Talbot, Tenn.) OF/SS - Led the team in hitting this fall and hit over .600 in the University of Tennessee Fall Tournament. She is a very versatile player both in the outfield and middle infield slots and can expect to see some time on the mound for the Bucs this spring. She is a true competitor and is determined to be successful.
Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) C/1B/3B - Massenzo will fill the gap behind the plate for the Bucs this spring, and is a very quick and tenacious defensive catcher. She showed great signs during fall ball, and is valuable player to ETSU. The rookie can also play first and third, and can expect to see a lot of action this spring.
Brittany Roggeman (Afton, Tenn.) 2B - She is a very hard worker and hopefully some of that dedication will rub off on the team this season. Entering her freshman season as a second baseman for the Bucs, Roggeman has improved tremendously since joining the team during the fall. Her speed and developed strength will benefit her when competing for a position this spring.
2007 Schedule Breakdown
With no home games until March 13th, the Bucs hope that playing a lot of tough competition on the road early will pay off when conference play begins the middle of March. ETSU will play two Top-25 teams in the first week of its season, as they will see Washington (12th) and South Florida (22nd) in the Wilson Invitational in Tampa, Fla. Also at the Wilson Invitational the Bucs will face off with Florida A&M for the first of two season match-ups in 2007. The Bucs will compete in two other tournaments during the season as they travel to Woodstock, Ga. for the Buzz Classic and Orlando, Fla. for the Rebel Games. In Georgia, ETSU will face Big 10 foe Wisconsin along with the second match-up with Florida A&M.
"We want to be put to the test early so that when we step out of the fire, we will be stronger for our conference opponents, said coach Mangrum. By facing some great competition the team's character will shine and grow to higher levels."
To go along with the tough non-conference schedule, the Bucs will be playing University of Tennessee again this season and they are entering 2007 as the number two team in the country. ETSU will also continue its rivalry with Virginia Tech in the State Line Classic on April 17.
"We love playing a team that make us better and that is why we play a tough non-conference schedule early on in the year, added Mangrum. "We want to get better every day during this season. Our themes for this year are "believe" and "work like an underdog, play like a champion." This is the confidence that fuels our players to trust in their efforts and preparation."
Preseason A-Sun Poll
2007 A-Sun Coaches Poll
1. Stetson (6) 95
2. Kennesaw State (3) 93
3. Campbell (1) 69
4. Mercer 68
5. UNF 62
6. ETSU 52
7. Gardner-Webb 37
8. Jacksonville 35
9. Lipscomb 24
10. Belmont 15
Tournament Champion: Stetson
2007 A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year
Keri McKee - Kennesaw State
2007 A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Erica Demers - Stetson
2007 Preseason All-Atlantic Sun
P - Erica Demers, Stetson
P - Brittany Matthews, Kennesaw State
C - Kelli Rutenbar, UNF
IF - Keri McKee, Kennesaw State
IF - Jennifer Nolan, Kennesaw State
IF - Ashley Parenteau, UNF
IF - Jamie Madruga, Mercer
OF - Jessica Huffman, Campbell
OF - Kelley Cowart, Kennesaw State
OF - Jessi Williams, Gardner-Webb
DP - Carolina Rojas, Stetson