Seven seniors to lead Scot squad into 2010 season

By Mathew Starner

With seven out of 11 softball players being seniors, six of whom are four-year starters, the 2010 campaign looks to be the culmination of a Mac softball team developed over the last three seasons.”We have a lot of senior leadership,” second baseman Alison Phillips ’10 said. “We know it’s our last season. We want to make it as memorable and awesome as possible.”

A benefit from having so much starting experience on the field is the familiarity with other teams and tendencies within the MIAC.

“We have a lot of experience and we know the teams in the MIAC a lot better,” catcher Crystal Barriga ’10 said. “I think we have a better mentality going into games this year just because we’ve played the teams for the past three seasons.”

Another advantage to the team’s size is that it has constructed a tighter harmony within the team dynamic. In comparison with other squads of 25+ players like St. Thomas, a shorter roster has ensured fluidity inside the team for most players.

“Because we’ve played together for so long, we really know each other as players and can anticipate how each other will react in certain situations,” Phillips said.

However, of course, the smaller size has enforced limitations in other areas. With a shorter bench of a couple players, a higher responsibility is placed each player.

“I definitely think we’re a cohesive team due to our small number” outfielder Ali Nystrom ’10 said. “I think that’s a characteristic of Macalester as well because everything is a lot smaller here that you get to know everyone a lot better. But also when you really need players, they’re not necessarily there if someone does get hurt. It’s kind of a trade off.”

Many seniors are coming off of already strong seasons. Leading the way was Barriga batting .382 followed by Amanda Cagan ’10 at .351, who will be splitting time with Barriga catching games behind the plate.

In the pitchers’ circle, Olivia Abbot ’10 and Amanda Knopf ’12 combined for 172 strikeouts in 38 games last year. The two look to benefit from a new coaching hire, Briana Hassett.

Hassett led all NCAA Division I pitchers last year in strikeouts with 414 in 307 innings before graduating from the University of Minnesota.

This experience suggests a more optimistic outlook on the Scots’ already strong starting staff.

“They’re definitely looking to gain from her knowledge and what she experienced playing at D-1,” Barriga said. “We still need to get to know her, but so far it’s been a positive thing to bring her on the team.”

With an addition to the coaching staff and the experience that six four-year starters bring expectations are a lot higher for the upcoming 2010 season. Some players are feeling that the team is coming together at just the right time.

“We’re putting people at different positions and mixing things around, trying to fill those holes we have in terms of position players,” Nystrom said. “I definitely think people stepping in playing outfield are looking really good. Our pitchers are looking good, they look like they’ve gotten a lot stronger than last year.”

With a heavy upperclassmen team, the season is looking to be the capstone effort of a large graduating class on the roster.

“I think we have a real chance to show the hard work that we’ve been putting in for the past three and a half years,” Phillips said. “We have six seniors on the team that are ready to go all out.