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Bobcat softball readies for season
For Quinnipiac softball, opening day is right around the corner. Starting March 8, QU begins its quest to return to the NEC championship game when they travel to Kissimmee and Daytona Beach, Florida.
Led by head coach Germaine Fairchild, softball finished with a QU record 32 wins last season (32-17), including 13 conference-wins (13-8). They clinched the third spot in the NEC tournament before falling to LIU in the championship game 9-1.
The loss has not been a distraction to the team’s goals this season. Senior pitcher Melissa Reynolds said, “I definitely think the goal (of breaking QU win record) is realistic again.”
Although they had a superb 2003, the Bobcats have a new goal to strive for this season. Reynolds said, “We surprised ourselves a little bit last year, but we have a new goal to set for ourselves this season to win the NEC.”
They seem to be in good shape for the upcoming season, in more ways than one. The softball team’s strength and conditioning program is more vigorous than other years. Reynolds said, “Our team trainer, Greg Bracey, puts us in an intense program, probably the hardest strengthening and conditioning workout since I have been at QU.”
As for the players, the Bobcats have talent on both sides of the field. Junior shortstop Sarah Collins led the NEC, including playoffs, in batting average (.430), slugging percentage (.799) and on base percentage (.485), while adding 13 home runs and 39 RBIs. She also started in 50 of 52 games last season, which includes the NEC tourney.
Senior Elizabeth Moriarty contributed to the Bobcats’ offense with a .386 batting average and was tied for first on the team in doubles with 14. Sophomore infielder Nicole Otten batted .338 and was second on the Bobcats with 27 RBIs. Both Moriarty and Otten had near perfect fielding percentages with .979 and .951, respectively.
Speaking of defense, the pitching staff for the Bobcats was at its finest in 2002-2003. Senior standouts Melissa Reynolds and Alisha Zabel combined for 25 of the team’s 32 wins.
Reynolds pitched just under 140 innings last season while compiling an ERA of 2.97 and registering 13 complete games. When the game was on the line, Reynolds slammed the door on opponents and record four saves.
Zabel had an impressive 2.20 ERA on the year, including 14 complete games, three of those being shutouts and fanned 79 opponents.
With players of this caliber, it seems hard to learn and build from last year’s performance. Reynolds attributed much of the team’s success to coach Fairchild.
“What makes her great is that she is still a softball player, a professional,” Reynolds said. “She has so much knowledge and passion for the game and she brings that attitude everyday to practice and games. She can take an average team and make them a great team.”