Spring sports preview: Softball swings into full action

By Matt Coughlin
March 1, 2001

Matt Coughlin
assistant news editor

The field is not yet ready, but the Cabrini softball team is itching to step up to the plate.

Softball season begins over the spring break, and the Lady Cavaliers will be in Atlanta, Ga. Gearing up for the Leadoff Classic. The Leadoff Classic is held over the second weekend of the spring break, March 9-11 in Atlanta. The Cabrini squad will face the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked Division III teams in the nation on opening day.

This should prove to be a good test for the reigning PAC champions. Last season saw the Lady Cavs go 21-1 against conference rivals, while posting a 39-9 overall record including the post-season.

With all of the team’s starters returning, they hope to take the next step. Last year, after winning the PAC championship over Misericordia, the Lady Cavs were able to advance to the regionals. This year they hope to make the nationals, and playing the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the nation on opening day will help determine how far they have to go.

“We are determined to go farther than last year,” Megan Merkel said. Merkel is a senior first baseman sidelined for the season by lingering knee problems.

Among returning starters are Megan Johnston, Erin Brooks and Rita Horning, all of whom played for Team USA this summer in Germany. Brooks and Horning are sophomores. Brooks is an outfielder from NY and Horning is a first baseman from MD.

“All of us have our individual skills and when they all come together it really works well for the team,” Katie Vollone said. Vollone is a senior left fielder. Vollone points out that the strength of the team is a “really solid defense.”

Jacki Armes, a junior, and Johnston will be splitting the pitching duties this season. Armes spent the off-season weight training while Johnston worked on her pitching.

“Even when no one else is there you can see her pitching against the wall by herself,” Merkel added.

Shortstop Heather Tu, also a sophomore is returning as well. Tu is a power hitter and a clutch player.

“She gets the play that you need,” Merkel said. According to Merkel, the team has really progressed its work ethic under Head Coach Bridget Baxter.

“We usually go from spot to spot looking for an available field,” Vollone said. Vollone worries that someone on the squad will get hurt on one of the random fields. “Some of them are really in need of repair,” Vollone adds. Hopefully the field will be ready for opening day when the team returns from spring break.

The team leaves for Atlanta this Saturday, March 3rd. There they will spend the week practicing and preparing for the first test of the season against No. 1 St. Mary’s of MN. and Chapman of CA.

Back at home in the PAC, Cabrini will be facing some familiar faces. Misericordia, who Cabrini was able to beat in the Championship game for the first time last season, figures to be strong again. Alvernia lost some seniors, but should still be strong and Cedar Crest is a squad on the rise.

All this points to an interesting season as the Lady Cavs hope to add to the trophy case.

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Matt Coughlin

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