2013 W&J Softball Season Preview
WASHINGTON, Pa. – The Washington & Jefferson College softball team begins its sixth season under Head Coach Nicole Vitello in 2013 with hopes of returning to the top of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.
Vitello, the 2008 PAC Coach of the Year, returns nine letter winners from last season’s 15-win squad. The Presidents posted a seven-victory improvement in PAC games compared to 2011, a feat matched by only regular-season champion Saint Vincent.
The Presidents’ offense will be bolstered by senior second baseman Stephanie Zur (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) and junior shortstop Kelsey Cunningham (McMurray, Pa./Peters Township).
Zur was a second-team all-conference selection after posting a .331 batting average with 26 runs scored and 10 runs batted in, while starting all 38 games. Zur was successful on 12-of-13 stolen-base attempts, the third-most in the league. She enters the season with 101 career hits, the eighth-highest total in school history.
Cunningham owns a .353 career batting average with 21 extra-base hits and 23 RBI. She swiped seven bases, while scoring 24 runs last season. In 224 career at-bats, Cunningham has struck out just five times.
Sophomore Sadie Marak (Butler, Pa./Butler) also returns to the Presidents’ infield. The third baseman enjoyed a breakout rookie season when she batted .316 with a team-leading three home runs and 23 RBI. Marak’s three long balls were the most by a W&J freshman since Katelynn Falleroni also smacked three in 2008.
W&J’s returns its entire starting outfield, including the squad’s most experienced player (104 career games), senior center fielder D.J. Ufolla (Pittsburgh, Pa./Perry). Ufolla collected a career-high 12 RBI and smashed her first home run, while posting 26 hits. Sophomores Breanna Gleason (Baden, Pa./Ambridge) and Chalese Wilson (Washington, Pa./Chartiers-Houston) will fill the corner outfield spots. Gleason hit one home run and knocked in 10, while Wilson collected 17 hits in 36 games. The coaching staff also expects freshman Morgan Figura (Carnegie, Pa./Chartiers Valley) to earn time in the outfield.
Junior Madison Rotto (Sarver, Pa./Freeport) highlights the pitching staff after recording a team-high nine victories, while posting a 3.20 earned run average and 75 strikeouts in 120.1 innings. Rotto’s nine wins tied for ninth in the PAC and were the most by a President since Rebecca Nachreiner amassed 18 in 2008. Rotto could also see time in the field at first base and as the Presidents’ designated player. She clubbed three home runs and knocked in 24 runs in 120 at-bats last spring.
Sophomore Bethany Sheperd (Cincinnati, Ohio/Northwest) returns to the circle after winning three games during her rookie season. Freshman hurlers Krista McCartney (Salem, Ohio/United Local) and Emily Watson (Harmony, Pa./Seneca Valley) are also expected to compete for innings.
Behind the plate, sophomore Susan Lessman (Dalton, Ohio/Dalton) started 28 games during her rookie season, tallying 19 hits and a .326 on-base percentage. Defensively, Lessman recorded a .952 fielding percentage and threw out four potential base stealers. Cunningham and sophomore Jen Bahm (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) also could see time behind the plate. Bahm is a first-year member of the team after transferring from NCAA Division II Charleston (W.Va.).
W&J opens the season with four games in Maryland at the Salisbury University Tournament. The Presidents face Scranton and the host Sea Gulls on March 9th and take on Frostburg State and Virginia Wesleyan the following day. All four teams posted at least 23 victories last season.