PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND - The Brown softball team will open its 2013 season at the three-day Colorado State Tournament in Fort Collins, Colorado this weekend. The Bears will face the University of Nebraska-Omaha in their first game on March 1st at 11:15 am MST, followed by an afternoon game against the host, Colorado State, at 3:45 pm MST. The following day, Brown will challenge the University of Washington at 9:00 am MST and Bradley at 1:30 pm MST. The Bears will round off the tournament with a 9:00 am MST game versus Nebraska-Omaha on March 3rd.
The Brown softball team has undergone a major reconstruction during the off-season, as it welcomed an entirely new coaching staff this year. Head softball coach Katie Flynn will begin her first season with the Bears this spring, though she is hardly a novice when it comes to coaching. Flynn has 18 years of experience as a head coach for three different Division I teams, including her alma mater Colgate University. She spent the last 11 years as head coach for James Madison, averaging 28 wins per season and compiling a 313-278 overall record. At JMU, Flynn's team made it to the CAA Championships on eight separate occasions and won the title in 2009.
Flynn is joined by assistant coaches Hannah Angel and Kyllie Magill. Angel joins the Bears after serving as head softball coach for Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts during the 2011-2012 season. Angel, who had a stellar pitching career for UNC-Greensboro and competed in the 2008 Olympic Team Expedition Game Tour of Beijing, will work primarily with the pitching staff. Magill joins Brown after a standout career as a second baseman for UMass. She also severed as a student assistant coach for the Amherst College softball team. Magill will play an important role in working with players on their hitting and slapping mechanics.
The Bears, who welcome back five of their top six hitters from last year, look to improve on the 2012 season, during which they went 10-27 overall (7-13 Ivy League). Senior co-captain and 2012 Ivy League Co-Player of the Year, Stephanie Thompson (Chino, CA), returns as a crucial member of Brown's offense this season. Thompson had an outstanding junior campaign, posting a .477 batting average, which ranked second in Division I, an .841 slugging percentage and .571 on-base percentage. She also tallied 27 runs, 51 hits, 9 homeruns and 27 RBIs, while striking out only twice during the season. Thompson will move from shortstop to second or first base, as freshman Janet Leung (Mississauga, Ontario) will take over at shortstop. Junior Jen Kries (Mission Viejo, CA), who allowed only one error over 20 appearances last season, and sophomore Kelsey Hom (Santa, Monica, CA), who was third on the team in runs scored (14) and homeruns (3), will join the pair in middle infield.
Sophomore Trista Chavez (San Pedro, CA) will return as the starting third baseman after a breakout rookie season during which she led all freshmen with a .245 batting average. She also led the team with 67 assists and 4 double plays. She will receive back up at third base from freshman Molly Ann Mecca (Jessup, PA). Senior Aly Caplan (San Mateo, CA), who appeared in all 37 games last season and posted a .241 batting average, will contend with sophomore Emma Blake (Jefferson Township, PA) and Thompson for first base.
Sophomore Jessica Cherness (Torrance, CA) returns to the mound after a stellar rookie season in which she made 23 appearances, accumulated 7 wins and posted a 3.62 ERA in Ivy League games. Senior Lauren Kattchee (Houston, TX) will also return as a pitching option after missing the past two seasons due to injury. The pair will be joined in the circle by sophomore Sam Brady (Vienna, VA), who made 13 appearances and earned one save last season, as well as freshman pitchers Sarah Ropiak (Acton, MA) and Alex Scott (Santa Cruz, CA). When Scott isn't pitching, she will join freshman Jamie Pospishil (Wayne, NJ) to catch the pitching staff.
The Bears welcome back all their starting outfielders from last season, including senior co-captain and 2012 All-Ivy Honorable Mention honoree Avery Silverstein (Woodbridge, CT). Not only did Silverstein play a crucial role as the starting left fielder in 35 games, she also was an asset in the batter's box where she was third on the team in batting average, accumulating a .295 in Ivy League games. Junior Kelsey Williams (Greenwood, IN) will return to center field after an errorless sophomore season during which she posted 63 putouts and 2 assists. Her classmates Danielle Palms (Smithfield, RI), who led the team in at-bats and was third with 26 hits, and Kristin Watterlond (East Granby, CT) are both returning to cover right field. The outfield is rounded out by freshmen Jackie Storey (Halifax, MA) and Kathleen Samuelson (Harrison, NY) who will both seek to make an immediate impact.
The Bears will look to improve their record and consistency since last season, which will be helped by the fact that many key starters from last year will be returning. "Brown had a young group starting in critical positions last season that are more mature, experienced and stronger in 2013," Coach Flynn pointed out.
Despite their tough competition, the Bears are confident in their abilities and looking forward to beginning the season in Colorado.
"We are optimistic and excited to take the field in Colorado," Coach Flynn said, "I think this is a hungry group of athletes excited to compete."
After returning from the Centennial State, the Brown softball team will travel to Maryland to compete in the Towson Tournament. The Bears will then conclude the tournament season with the Delaware State Tournament from March 22nd to 24th. They begin Ivy League play on March 30th with a doubleheader at Princeton.