The Brown Softball team will open up the 2012 campaign on the road at the UTEP Invitational this Friday in El Paso, Texas. The Bears will face University of Texas – San Antonio in the opener of the tournament at 10am, then will face off against host UTEP in an afternoon game at 4:30pm. On Saturday the Bears will challenge Valparaiso at 2:00pm, and for the second time in as many days will battle with host UTEP at 4:00pm. On Sunday, the team will finish tournament play with a 9:00am game against Iowa State.
The team is excited about the season with a large group of seasoned, returning players leading the way. Senior captain and First Team All-Ivy honoree Kate Strobel (Denver, CO) will anchor the infield at first base. She started in all 37 games for the Bears last season and batted .383 at the plate and led the team in walks (17). Also returning is Trish Melvin (Wexford, PA) and junior Erika Mueller (Steilacoom, WA), who missed the entire 2011 season due to injury. Melvin will be counted on to handle a completely new pitching staff from behind the plate, as three rookies will be in the circle in 2012. Sharing innings for the Bears will be Jessica Cherness (Torrance, CA), Sam Brady (Vienna, VA) and Denise van der Goot (Pasadena, CA). Lost for the season due to injury is junior pitcher Lauren Katchee (Houston, TX).
Rounding out the Bears' infield will be freshman Trista Chavez (San Pedro, CA) at third, sophomore Danielle Palms (Smithfield, RI) at shortstop, and freshman Kelsey Hom (Santa Monica, CA) at second with "super utility" Mueller filling in as needed in the middle infield. Strobel, at first, will be backed by the capable glove and offensive weapon, freshman Emma Blake (Jefferson Township, PA).
Patrolling the outfield will be junior Avery Silverstein (Woodbridge, CT) and Kelsey Williams (Greenwood, IN) in centerfield. Junior Stephanie Thompson (Downey, CA) who led the nation with an amazing .504 batting average will move from third base to right field. Also expected to see action in the outfield are Junior Aly Caplan (San Mateo, CA), as well as sophomores Kristin Watterlond (East Granby, CT), and Jen Kries (Mission Viejo, CA). Freshman DP Misa Wong (San Jose, CA) may also see action behind the plate and in the outfield, rounds out the roster.
The team's expectations are to continue to move up in the ranks of the Ivy League. A stronger, more consistent offense should be on display this year with the influx of some offensive talent, not to mention the return of experienced players who last season made huge contributions to the team's offensive punch. With the addition of three strong pitchers, the team hopes that they will be able to stay in the game with a more consistent defense, beginning with the pitching staff and bolstered by a stronger, experienced defensive squad.
After returning from Texas, the team is off to Baltimore, Maryland to participate in the UMBC Spring Classic from March 17, 18; and then it's off to the UC-Riverside Tournament in California from March 23-25. The Bears will then open Ivy League play at UPenn and Columbia before opening at home against Cornell (April 6) and Princeton (April 7). Last season the start of Ivy play was very promising for the Bears as they swept UPenn and ended up 3-1 for the weekend. The team then split (2-2) the Cornell and Princeton series, a feat not experienced by Bruno in quite a few years.
Photo taken by dspics.net