CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 12, 2010) - After putting in numerous hours of practice during the fall and now the last few weeks leading up to the start of the season, the ETSU softball team is set to hit the diamond and kick off the 2010 season when the Lady Bucs head to Charlotte for the 49er Round Robin on Saturday.
The Lady Bucs, who raced out of the gates and posted their best 20-game start in program history a year ago, finished the season on a sour note to end up 27-28, 6-14 in Atlantic Sun action.
ETSU kicks off the season with an 11 a.m. first pitch against BIG EAST foe
Fans unable to make the trip to the D.L. Phillips Softball complex can catch all the action via live stats courtesy of the Charlotte Media Relations Department. To access live stats visit http://www.charlotte49ers.com/ or click on the link above.
For more information regarding the 2010 Lady Buccaneer softball program, check out the season preview below.
Building confidence and staying focused
Those are two things the ETSU softball team has worked on this preseason. Those two goals were lost a year ago after jumping out to their best start in school history (15-5), but at the end the Lady Bucs finished 27-28.
However, a new season is upon the Lady Bucs, and they will be led by their five senior leaders both on and off the field. The class of Cheniece Cason (
"I have been telling the seniors throughout the preseason that this is their team," commented head coach Andrea Mangrum. "These five ladies have the opportunity to go out on top and have everyone remember how they laid the foundation of a winning program."
Along with the five key seniors, ETSU returns six total starters and 11 letterwinners from a year ago. Joining the five are Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team selection Amy Campbell (
The Lady Bucs lost key components in Jessie Hackworth (
"We lost a lot of power and speed with our senior class a year ago, but I felt my staff and I did a great job bringing in players to fill in those gaps," commented Mangrum. "Overall this freshman class will have a chance to fight for starting positions and playing time when the preseason begins in January."
With the Lady Bucs playing their second season in the newly constructed stadium, having key senior leadership and a deep bench, the sky is the limit for ETSU in 2010.
"Our team has one goal and one goal only - win a conference championship," said Mangrum. "The road getting there won't be an easy one; however, if we play fundamentally sound ball and stay focused as a team we are capable of making anything happen."
Pitchers and Catchers
The one area ETSU has strength and numbers is with its battery of pitchers and catchers. Seniors Marissa Hardy and Darci Gilbert are the catalysts in the circle while Trisha Massenzo hasn't lost a step with the play calling behind the plate. Over the last two years Hardy has combined for 36 of ETSU's 57 wins and Massenzo has started 147 of the 173 games over the last three years. Hardy, who holds the Lady Bucs' single season record for wins (19) and strikeouts (255), also fanned a program-best 16 batters against Presbyterian as a sophomore in 2008. Meanwhile, Massenzo led the club with 10 doubles and 28 RBIs in 2009 and has only missed four games in the last two years.
Joining Hardy in the circle is Gilbert, a right-handed hurler out of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Gilbert was on pace to have her best season in 2009, but shoulder injuries placed her on the disabled list throughout the major part of the conference race. The
"Marissa and Darci are the go-to pitchers on our staff this season," commented Mangrum. "They have the most D-I experience and their mental toughness will come into play when we face some strong competition. We expect both of these senior pitchers to produce in their final year and help this team win ballgames."
Junior Katie Henderson will also share duties with Massenzo behind the plate.
Back in the circle the Lady Bucs can also call to junior newcomer Jessica Duncan (
"Both Jessica and Shelby bring a different style of pitching to the team," added Mangrum. "They pitched a lot of innings for us in the fall, and that added experience will pay off once the season begins in February. We look to use both of them in certain game situations to keep the opposition off balance."
The Lady Buccaneer infield consists of a solid mixture of veterans and rookies. The middle infield slots will be filled by senior Cheniece Cason at short and sophomore Amy Campbell (
In addition to Campbell, a pair of freshmen will be used at second with Lucy Schneider (Dade City, Fla.) and Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) handling the chores. Schneider, who can also play short, is a valuable commodity with her bat, speed and defense. The Dade City, Florida, native hit .495 (48-for-97) with 10 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 35 RBIs as a senior at
"Our infield rotation will be based on who steps up and wants the job," commented Mangrum. "We have some key players who will contribute on a daily basis, but at other positions we will go with the hot bat and who is playing well."
Two of ETSU's three outfield positions are filled with sophomore Annie Martin (
"Katy and Annie are two solid outfielders as we enter the 2010 season," said Mangrum. "Their speed and strong arms are a valuable asset in left and center, and they are capable of making plays at any given time. They both play very well together."
The starting right field position will be a battle between three Lady Buccaneer players. Sophomore Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.), Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) and Jessica Duncan will contend for the starting job and can possibly split time in the gap depending on productivity in the position. In addition to those three, freshmen Whitley Hensley (
When looking at the 2010 ETSU softball schedule two words come to mind - "Road Warriors."
The Lady Bucs, who kick off the season with 24 consecutive road games, face six teams from NCAA Tournament play a year ago.
"I think playing 24 straight road games will bring this team closer," added Mangrum. "We wanted try to utilize our new stadium early in the season, but due to the weather conditions in East Tennessee we are forced to play in warmer climates."
ETSU kicks off the season playing in five tournaments - which begins on Feb. 13 in
Following their stint in
From there, the Lady Bucs continue with tournament play in
The Lady Bucs finally play their first set of games inside the Volunteer state in 2010 when ETSU makes the journey to
ETSU wraps up its tournament play when the Lady Bucs make their longest road trip in school history, and seniors Marissa Hardy and Cheniece Cason make a visit to their home state of
"I feel all four of these tournaments will test the girls each and every weekend," Mangrum said. "Each tournament features teams from the top conferences, and opponents who reached the NCAA Tournament last season. I always feel in order to become stronger you have to play teams that are very successful, and I believe this format achieves that goal in 2010."
After the 24-game road trip - which covers four tournaments in four different states - the Lady Bucs finally say hello to
"The home-opener is always an exciting game, and I am sure the team will be ready to protect their home turf," mentioned Mangrum. "The early road games are critical, so we can enter the home opener on a high note and have the stadium filled for the game against Presbyterian."
The homestand doesn't last long for the Lady Bucs, as Mangrum's squad embarks on a three-game road swing to close out the month of March. ETSU begins Atlantic Sun Conference play with a series in the
"Opening A-Sun play in
Once again the Lady Bucs return home for a brief two-game home-stand when conference contenders Stetson and FGCU visit the newly built ETSU Softball Complex. The Lady Bucs host the Hatters on April 2 and Eagles on April 3.
During the final stretch of the season, the Lady Bucs split time both at home and on the road. ETSU travels to Blacksburg for a night game with Virginia Tech on April 6, before heading down to Florida for a critical A-Sun showdown with Jacksonville (April 9) and North Florida (April 10). Other road swings include a trip to
Following a trip to USC Upstate on April 25, the Lady Bucs wrap up regular season play with a three-series homestand starting on April 28 against
The Atlantic Sun Tournament and automatic bid to the NCAA Regional will again take place in
"The team knows what the goal is entering the season, and they know the journey to an A-Sun Championship won't be easy," said Mangrum. "They know the hard work in the fall and preseason will eventually pay off when the regular season rolls around. We can't take any opponent lightly and have to play fundamentally smart ball each time we take the field. If we follow this recipe, we know our goals can be reached."
For more information in on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.