Washington College Athletics
February 16, 2017
One step away. The Washington College softball team was five outs away from a second Centennial Conference championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 lead over Haverford, but its hopes were dashed as the team fell to Haverford in the championship round 2-1 and 5-3 to see the dream of a conference crown and NCAA Tournament come to an end.
Despite the ending, the Shorewomen achieved a lot in the 2016 season as they went 22-20 overall and 11-5 in the Centennial. They earned the top seed in the Centennial Conference Tournament for the first time, they reached the conference tournament for the fifth time in the past six years, recorded their fifth 20-win season since 2011, reached the conference championship game for the third time in five years and defeated #16 Wheaton (Mass.) in Florida.
This year the Shorewomen look to take that final step and win the conference crown for the second time in team history, joining the 2013 team. The 2017 version of the Shorewomen consists of 14 players: two seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.
“The group is very hungry and while they realize it’s a new team, they have a feeling in them that hasn’t left since May 8 (which were the last two games of 2016),” says head coach Lacey Lister who is entering her ninth year at the helm of the Shorewomen. “They’ve worked extremely hard in the offseason and they’re read to put their boots on the ground and win another conference championship.”
The pitching staff last year came through as they led the Centennial with a 2.73 ERA and strikeouts per seven innings with a 5.40 clip. Washington was second in the conference with 214 strikeouts. The good news is the Shorewomen return 252 of the 277.1 innings pitched from a season ago. On offense, the team did improve its batting average by 10 points to .285, but will seek to improve on its runs per game from a season from 2016 where they scored just 158 runs (3.76 runs per game). In the field, the team seeks to be better as they were seventh in the conference last spring with a .940 fielding percentage and six of the seven runs they allowed in the championship round versus Haverford were unearned.
The pitching staff will be experienced this spring and Lister projects all four will see time this spring.
Lister has a strong duo in the circle in sophomore Maddie Bennett (Ellicott City, Md./Mount Hebron) and junior Taylor Harcum (Hebron, Md./Mardela). Bennett, who won both pitcher and rookie of the year in 2016, went 12-3 with a 2.25 ERA as she fired the team’s first-ever seven inning no-hitter last spring in a 5-0 win at Swarthmore. Bennett was second in the conference in wins (12) and batting average against (.209), third in strikeouts per game (6.14), ERA and fourth in shutouts (2) and strikeouts (90). Harcum went 9-12 with a 2.39 ERA and 83 strikeouts. She was third in the conference in innings pitched (123) and saves (2), fourth in ERA (2.39) and sixth in wins.
Rounding out the quartet are junior Milly Kawabata (Kirkland, Wash./Juanita) and freshmen Rachel Butler (York, Pa./Central York). Kawabata tossed 26.1 innings last season in 13 games as she picked up her one save in a 7-5 win at Dickinson in the second game of a conference doubleheader to allow Washington to split the twinbill.
Bennett also brings a potent bat too as she hit .333 with one home run and 23 RBI to go along with team-bests of 13 doubles and a .483 slugging percentage. She was second on the team in hits (47), walks (15) and RBI, tied for second in home runs, third in batting average and tied for third in runs scored. In the Centennial, her 13 two-baggers ranked her second and her 15 walks were good for 10th.
Behind the plate at catcher, Lister has junior tri-captain Allyson Meil (Jarrettsville, Md./North Harford) as the starter this season. Meil played in all 42 games for Washington in 2016, starting in 41 of those contests. The junior ranked second on the team in runs scored with 18 and made just three errors in 243 chances last spring. She ranked ninth in the Centennial in putouts with 229 and was the catcher for the no-hitter by Bennett on April 21, 2016 at Swarthmore. Also spending time behind the plate are sophomore Kerrigan Buck (Dalton, Pa./Lackawanna Trail) and junior tri-captain Gabrielle Edwards (New Castle, Del./St Georges Technical).
The three players expected to be the corner infielders this season are Butler and Edwards at first base as the latter projects to transition from third base to first and freshman Alli Saul (Bridgeton, N.J./Cumberland Regional) as she is penciled in right now to be at third. Edwards and Saul can play either corner and both could play the other corner during the season. At the third last season, Edwards led the team in assists with 72 and was eighth in the conference in helpers.
Kerrigan Buck could potentially see time at third as she has been working at the hot corner.
The middle infield positions of second base and shortstop are expected to be played by senior Kerri Estep (Lancaster, Pa./Penn Manor), and freshman Leah Stokes (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton). Last season, Estep played in 32 of the 44 games, scoring eight runs.
In the outfield, the team will have to replace two of the most decorated players in program history in 2016 graduates Paige Briganti and Clare Hofstedt, both of whom were multiple time all-conference selections.
Expected to slide from left field to center field is the squad’s 2016 most improved player, junior Elaina DiPrimio (West Chester, Pa./Bayard Rustin). DiPrimio had an outstanding sophomore season in 2016 as she hit .359 with one home run and a team-topping 24 RBI. She tied for tops on the squad in triples (2), was second on the team in batting, second in hits (47), third in doubles (6) and slugging (.458) and fourth in walks (12). In the conference she was tied for eighth in three-baggers and ninth in hits.
Battling to take DiPrimio’s spot in left field is sophomore Regan Horan (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma). In limited action at the plate last year, she had three hits in eight at-bats, including a walk-off RBI double to beat Franklin & Marshall to complete a doubleheader sweep. She appeared in 22 games and stole four bases. Also projected to see time in left is sophomore Kasey Buck (Dalton, Pa./Lackawanna Trail).
In right field, senior tri-captain Erin Spinden (Wilmington, Del./Delcastle Technical) and Harcum could split time this season. Harcum hit .261 with one home run and 10 RBI at the plate in 2016, while Spinden played in a career-best 24 games as junior.
At designated player, Lister sees a trio seeing the majority of the time there in Bennett, Butler and Harcum.
This year’s team has 14 players and while very talented, Lister knows it’s very important for players to be able to play multiple positions during the season due to the small numbers.
“We are very versatile this year and we have to be,” says the three-time and reigning Centennial Conference Coach of the Year. “The girls are embracing it.”
Lister will be assisted by Caitlin Chance, who is on the staff for her third season.
The Shorewomen will begin their season on February 25-26 in Cary, North Carolina at the Triangle Grand Slam Classic. On February 25, the team will play North Carolina Wesleyan and Salem and the following day the team will play William Peace and Greensboro. The following weekend, March 4-5, the Shorewomen will travel to Salisbury to play in the Sea Gull Classic against host Salisbury and Clarkson, playing both teams on both days. On March 8 the team have its home opener in a doubleheader versus Averett before departing for Florida where they will play 10 games from March 12-17 for the Rebel Spring Games. In Florida, the team will play Transylvania and Skidmore (March 12), Mt. St. Mary (N.Y.) and Gustavus Adolphus (March 13), Marietta and Cornell College (March 14), Albright and #19 Trine (March 16) and Illinois Wesleyan and Farmingdale St. (March 17).
In Centennial play, which are all doubleheaders, the team will host Muhlenberg (March 25), Swarthmore (April 11), Dickinson (April 14) and defending conference champion Haverford (April 22) and will travel to Ursinus (March 28), Gettysburg (April 1), McDaniel (April 8) and Franklin & Marshall (April 29). Out of conference, the team will in addition to Averett also host Stevenson (April 13) in a twinbill while traveling to Catholic (April 5) for a doubleheader.
Washington will play five NCAA Tournament teams from 2016 this season: World Series participant Illinois Wesleyan, Haverford, Mt. St. Mary (N.Y.), Salisbury and Trine.
The team will play teams from the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia this season. The team will have 12 home games, 12 road games and 16 neutral site games for a total of 40 games on the slate this spring, with Trine being ranked in the NFCA Preseason Poll.