GREENVILLE, S.C. (Feb. 8, 2008) - Coming off its best offensive season in school history, the ETSU softball program will open its 2008 schedule this Saturday afternoon when the Lady Bucs take on the Furman Paladins. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Pepsi Stadium.
ETSU, who was selected fifth in the Preseason Atlantic Sun Coaches Poll, swept Furman a year ago in
Like ETSU, the Lady Paladins were also picked fifth in the Preseason SoCon Coaches Poll. Furman went 21-34-1 in 2007, but the Lady Paladins shocked the conference as they won the postseason tournament and earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Fans unable to make the trip to Pepsi Stadium can view all the action via GameTracker by visiting http://furmanpaladins.cstv.com/ or by clicking the link above.
Below is a preview of the 2008 ETSU Lady Buccaneer Softball program.
Coming off one its best seasons in ETSU history, the Lady Buccaneer softball team will look to claim their first Atlantic Sun championship crown this May.
The Lady Bucs enjoyed their best offensive season in program history in 2007, and will look to build off that success this upcoming season. As a team, ETSU set school records in batting average (.280), runs (247), RBI (213), slugging percentage (.401), on-base percentage (.340), and sacrifice hits (54). The Lady Buccaneers bats were also on fire during their 18 conference games. ETSU led the A-Sun in every offensive statistical category in 2007.
"Coach Roberts has done a tremendous job with our hitters and making ETSU one of the best offensive teams in the conference," said head ETSU softball coach Andrea Mangrum. "She has played a vital role in teaching our players how to be great hitters and played a huge part in our offensive success last year."
Mangrum's club will be tested early as ETSU opens the season with 22 straight games on the road. The Lady Buccaneer schedule also includes 10 participants from the 2007 NCAA Tournament; including Baylor who made it to the Women's College World Series and the national runner-up
The Lady Bucs' season-opening road trip features four tournaments beginning with the Cox Communications Classic in
"I have learned in order to be successful you have to play a strong schedule early," said Mangrum. "This will show our true strength as a team and give us a clear direction for the remainder of our season."
ETSU will finally play its first game in
Following the rigorous schedule, the top-six teams will advance to the Atlantic Sun Tournament. The three-day double-elimination tournament begins May 8 in
Below is a breakdown of the 2008 ETSU softball team (broken up by infield, outfield and pitcher/catcher)…
Lady Buccaneer Infield
Beginning at the corners, the Lady Bucs will feature sophomore Marissa Hardy (
The tandem of senior Briana Knight (Brier,
Newcomer Ashley Boyd (
"We return just about our entire infield from last season," commented Mangrum. "Stephanie Gaynord will always be considered one of the greatest players to come through our program, but Cheniece has worked hard to fill those shoes this season. Cheniece is the only new face to the infield and we are already seeing what a smooth transition it has been this off-season. The remaining infielders along with the newcomers have great chemistry. They each understand their roles and responsibilities which are vital with the speed of the game and the small ball defense we will have to play."
Lady Buccaneer Outfield
The ETSU outfield will feature a lot speed and some pop on the offensive end. The trio of Katy Jett (
During her rookie season, Jett led the team in hits (54) and posted a .305 batting average (54-177) with eight doubles, one triple, five home runs and 32 RBI. Jett joined Cason on the All-Freshmen Team as well as receiving Second Team All-Atlantic Sun accolades. Powell, who was forced to sit out part of the season with a concussion, will primarily play center and left. The slap hitter will cause a lot of havoc on the opposing pitcher/catcher duo, as she will look to use her quickness to a lot steal bases. McCoy transferred to ETSU from Chattanooga State CC, and like Powell her speed will help position herself into scoring position when she reaches. She was only caught four times in 78 attempts while playing for the Lady Tigers, and as a slap hitter she hit .429 (157-366) with nine doubles, six triples, one home run, 64 RBI and 112 runs scored.
Also looking to help in the outfield as well as behind the plate will be junior Caitlin Zyskowski (
"Outfield is a position that is often underestimated, because they are the second line of defense," said Mangrum. "We will see some of the best hitters in the country this year and the outfield must be prepared to think a step ahead at all times. We have great speed along with strong arms, so I believe we will throw out a lot of runners on the bases this spring."
Lady Buccaneer Pitching/Catching
The Lady Buccaneer pitching staff will be led by sophomores Darci Gilbert (
Gilbert, on the other hand, was the most durable Lady Buccaneer pitcher. The
"Coach Beus has brought more to our pitching staff than I ever imagined," added Mangrum. "The pitchers feel as though they are getting a private lesson everyday at practice. Each pitcher on our staff has a different strength and that is what makes the entire staff so strong. It will be a great tool to keep our opponents off balanced this season and that is the depth we have been missing in the past."
The battery partners include (Trisha) Massenzo, Katie Henderson (
The freshmen combo of Henderson and Jackson can also expect to see some time at the catcher slot. Being behind the plate is like another home for Henderson as she caught every game for Trinity Christian Academy going into her senior year (184 games). Also, she guided the Lady Lions to back-to-back TSSAA Class A State Championships in 2006 and 2007, marking the first time in school history TCA has ever won a championship.
"With Coach Beus taking over the pitching reigns it has allowed me to be more interactive with our catchers. A catcher is the cornerstone of a defense and it is vital that a catching staff be prepared to handle their responsibilities behind the plate. We have spent a lot of time preparing them in practice to handle all the little things that take place in a game setting. This was something we did not get to do enough of last year and I believe we will see a big turn around with their defensive skills this season."
Lady Bucs in the Atlantic Sun
After leading the league in offence during the conference season and earning its highest seed in the Atlantic Sun Tournament (third seed), ETSU was picked to finish fifth in the Preseason Coaches Poll. Along with the fifth-place ranking, the Lady Buccaneers saw two of their players named to the Preseason All-Conference Team as (Amanda) Haverman and Katy (Jett) were recognized for their hard work. Stetson, last year's tournament champion, was picked to finish first; while Kennesaw State (135 votes), UNF (99) votes and Gardner-Webb (91 votes) were picked above ETSU.