The Castleton State College softball team is going to have a fresh start this season under new head coach John Werner.The team, which lost in the North Atlantic Conference quarterfinal game for the second year in a row last season, has a ton of youth. It showcases a 20-player roster of 16 freshmen and sophomores and only four upperclassmen. Just eight players from last season are returning.
With all of the new players coming into the program, the Spartans find themselves with plenty positions to fill.
“Most positions are still up for grabs, but it would appear that we will have new players at [shortstop], catcher, and one or two outfield spots,” said Werner.
First base is also a position still in question. The competition is taking place among Sarah Flore, Julie Benzenberg and Lindsay Carlton.
Freshmen Lydia McPherson and Hannah Greene are looking to fill positions too. McPherson is slated to fill the vacancy at shortstop at some point while Greene is destined for the outfield.
One of the Spartans’ biggest voids is behind the plate. Three freshmen – Bridget Dusha, Stephanie Wright and Ashley Chase – are competing for the opening.
Because of all of the young players, Werner will be counting on the returning veteran players to step up big.
“Alicia [Zraunig], as a returning captain, will need to have a big year,” Werner said. “Tosha [Whittemore] and Hilary [Bemis] on the mound also will be very important.”
Tosha Whittemore and Bemis, a junior who hasn’t pitched since high school, will be Werner’s Number 1 and 2 starters this season, while Maggie Mercy and Whitney Grassley will get spot starts and be used out of the bullpen.
One veteran who will be a key to Spartan success is sophomore outfielder Siobhan Whittemore, who showed promise in the four games she played in last season, going 3-for-9 at the plate with an RBI and two walks. The Spartans will count on Whittemore to have similar offensive numbers for the entire season.
The Spartans will certainly have their work cut out for them to make a run at the NAC title-Castleton was picked fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll-but Whittemore is confident that the Spartans will be more competitive than last season.
“I believe that this year we will definitely do a lot better than last year,” she said. “We have a lot of new players who have a lot of talent and bring a lot to the team, and even the returners are ready and trying harder to have a better season.