Bucknell Softball Kicks Off 2009 Season with North Carolina Tour
Feb. 12, 2009
LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bucknell softball team opens its 2009 season this weekend at the Campbell Tournament in Buies Creek, N.C., taking on Charleston Southern and Campbell on Friday, Feb. 13 and Ohio University and Saint Joseph's on Saturday, Feb. 14. Live stats will be available on gocamels.com. The Bison will follow up with a doubleheader at North Carolina Central on Sunday, Feb. 15, starting at noon.
The Orange and Blue enter the new season on a wave of success, namely finishing in a second-place tie in the Patriot League last year, earning six all-league selections and claiming the 2008 Patriot League Coach of the Year. That success is evidence of the team having achieved some of its long-term goals, but it does not mean the Orange and Blue are entering the new season completely satisfied with past results.
"As a program, we've worked to develop a strong tradition and become a very potent team in the league," said head coach Heather Rakosik, who returns to the team's helm for her fifth season. "We're happy with the success we had last year. Tying for second last season was definitely gratifying, but we still have our eyes on the prize. We want to put in all the hard work, and things will take care of themselves. I feel very confident about the hard work our players are putting in, the strong fundamentals within our program, as well as our team's overall knowledge of the game."
The team will have to find answers to a few unknowns, as the Bison lost some key players to graduation. Bucknell has a number of players who still need to prove themselves in game situations and will be "battle-tested as they go."
With a deep roster, Bucknell will have plenty of opportunity to test out those new players and benefit from the consistency and experience of upperclassmen.
"The key in general for our whole team is going to be competition up and down the line," said Rakosik. "Our program has built itself into a place now where we do have a lot of veterans but a lot of up-and-coming players, too. At almost every position, there's tons of competition. We try to make that positive competition. Hopefully that's going to bring out the best in our players."
"She is a great leader for the staff and a pitcher who has improved every year," said Rakosik. "Katie is a very effective pitcher, especially with her yearly gains and ability to mix her pitches. We're looking for her to continue to step up and take even more reigns over the pitching staff."
The young trio of Jane Messersmith, Kaytlin Senatore and Liz Fanning will be called on to make an immediate impact, something the coaching staff sees as a definite possibility through the pitchers' play in fall games.
"We'd like for all three of them to step up. Regardless, we need a couple of them to step up, and I think we have three hard-working people who have tons of potential and they've really shown it in glimpses," said Rakosik. "They are still learning, as they're freshmen, so they're still developing what their repertoire is. I feel like they all three have solid speed. They're all different pitchers, so it should give us a good mix going from pitcher to pitcher."
"I think it's good because the competition will be high and hopefully will help our pitching staff continue to be strong all the way around," said Rakosik of the depth behind the plate. "It is nice to have a lot of options, and we're definitely looking for consistency from that position, someone who can be a leader immediately and especially take charge of the young pitchers."
"She does give us a lot of power at the plate. She is a captain this year and is a very good leader. Defensively, she's extremely solid," said Rakosik. "Last year she stepped up and did what she needed to do, and we're looking for her to continue to build on last year's performance."
Sophomore Alison Ford, who can also play the hot corner, will provide strong competiton at first base. Similar to Lloyd, Rakosik likes the offensive production Ford provides the team. Junior Shelly McCormack also has seen playing time at first base in the past and will vie for more after returning from a fall semester study abroad opportunity in Ireland.
"They both are very solid defensively. Both have a lot of capabilities offensively," said Rakosik, who also sees the players' variations in offensive production as a benefit to the team. "They're a little different as offensive players. Frick has a little bit more power, but Jessie Snyder is definitely a battler at the plate."
Sophomore Audrey Russo, who joined the team last season as a walk-on, will continue to be an option at second base for the Bison.
"She's playing just as her old self and definitely has the range and arm and everything you would want in a strong shortstop," said Rakosik.
Snyder will also be a very viable option at short after starting at the position last year, but she will also have to fend off her younger teammate, Schlorff.
"Brittany is a very talented infielder and shortstop. She has a cannon for an arm and really soft hands," said Rakosik. "It's nice that she gets to learn alongside some very strong infielders who are above her in class. She is definitely coming on as a very worthy shortstop."
"Mary has done a great job developing her range at third, which definitely helps our shortstops," said Rakosik. "She's a very capable glove and a great switch hitter with a lot of different things that she can do at the plate.
"In addition, Alison is a very savvy third baseman with all the tools necessary to lead on the field and at the plate."
Rakosik also looks to Beans to be a leader in the outfield, bringing her wealth of skills to help the rest of the team.
"She's a phenomenal outfielder. Her fundamentals are some of the best I've ever seen, and her range is very strong," said Rakosik. "She has a smart mind for the game. We're looking for her to continue to step up as a leader in the outfield."
Junior Sherry Finkel, who has moved around the field throughout her career, will also likely see some time in the outfield.
"(She has) a phenomenal arm and is a true utility player, but is really settling into the outfield," said Rakosik.
Finkel's classmate Lauren Trosch will also vie for outfield time upon returning from a study abroad experience in Spain this fall.
Rakosik also has formidable outfielders in sophomores Sam Rollandi and Lauren Fry, as well as freshmen Messersmith and Wheeler. Fry, who is the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year, set the Bucknell freshman single-season RBI record last year. She also held a share in the team lead in runs and doubles. Rakosik identifies Rollandi, who did not commit a fielding error in 31 games last season, as "a hard-working, die hard softball player with phenomenal leadership abilities."
"As a freshman, Sam was very composed at the plate. She also has superior athleticism and game-time skills," added Rakosik. "Lauren made a name for herself in just a year. She is a very savvy player with the ability to help us on both sides of the ball."
Messersmith comes into the Bison program as a very accomplished outfileder, as well as a pitcher, while Wheeler also provides some options for Bucknell.
"Jane is very skilled in the outfield with a great arm, not to mention serious power at the plate. She will help continue our tradtion of well-rounded outfielders," said Rakosik.
"Alicia has a lot of experience behind the plate but also can excel at other places on the field. She is a player who knows the game and will work tirelessly to contribute to the team."