Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, the 2009 edition of the York College softball squad is primed for an outstanding campaign. Second-year head coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift welcomes back a talented core of returners from last year’s 27-11 squad, mixed with a strong group of newcomers as the Spartans are primed for a serious run at a Capital Athletic Conference championship.
Patrick-Swift will bank on five returning starters to lead the way for the young squad. Juniors Heather Bormann and Sam Lawrence are the two most experienced players in the everyday eight while three sophomores, Kelly Smith, Kristen Gray, and Michelle Barwick give the Spartans a strong and experienced backbone to their starting lineup. Bormann, Lawrence, Smith and Gray were each All-Capital Athletic Conference selections last season.
Bormann has been a two-year starter for the Spartans as she is York’s starting shortstop. The junior captain hit a blistering .450 last year with 40 runs scored, 19 RBI, 14 stolen bases, eight doubles, three triples and a home run. She also played very well defensively, owning a .953 fielding percentage as she made just six errors last year. Bormann banged out a team-high 59 hits while her .482 on-base percentage led the squad.
“Heather is an outstanding leader on and off the field,” says Patrick-Swift. “She had a great year last year and I believe she can be even better as a junior. She will hit leadoff and give us good pop at the top of the lineup.”
Bormann’s partner on the left side of the infield is Smith who was very impressive in her first year in the Green and White. Smith earned preseason honorable mention All-American honors this winter, as she will be a huge part of the Spartan squad in 2009. Smith finished last year hitting .385 with 33 runs scored, 25 RBI, eight doubles, three triples and a home run. Not only is she an offensive force but is also one of the best defensive third basemen in the region.
“Kelly is an extremely talented player that plays well on both sides of the ball,” states Patrick-Swift. “She will hit in the heart of the lineup and will have the opportunity to be a significant run producer for us. Defensively, she makes the tough plays look routine and the easy plays look easy. She has the innate ability to always make the right play on defense.”
Lawrence is another two-year starter for York, as she will resume her spot in centerfield. She is a talented outfielder with the ability to track down balls that fall for hits with lesser fielders. Lawrence also gets the job done at the plate. As a sophomore, she hit .351 with 21 runs scored and 15 RBI. She stole a team-high 19 bases and had a .976 fielding percentage for York. She had three doubles, a triple and a home run last year. However, those are numbers that Patrick-Swift expects to improve in Lawrence’s junior campaign.
“Sam has added another dimension to her game this year,” says Patrick-Swift. “She will be using her in more of the traditional power positions in the lineup. We will make an effort to put Sam in positions where her power and her great speed will compliment the other pieces of our lineup.”
Gray will see most of her time behind the plate in addition to fulfilling the designated player role. Gray finished last year as a .409 hitter. She had 18 runs scored, 17 RBI and two doubles in just 88 at-bats for the campaign. She did a solid job behind the dish with a .971 fielding percentage. Gray really stepped up during the fall campaign and looks like a very confident sophomore for the Spartans.
“I am proud of Kristen,” says Patrick-Swift. “She has worked very hard in making herself a better player since last year. She is a more confident player, which has translated into her being a more productive player. Kristen is a strong left-handed hitter and she helps balance out our lineup. I am excited about her potential for a very good season.”
Joining Gray behind the plate will be junior transfer Julie Norris. Norris, a two-time NJCAA first-team selection at Frederick Community College, has made the transition from shortstop to catcher where she joins Gray to give the Spartans a great one-two punch behind the dish.
“Julie is a very talented player,” says Patrick-Swift. “Her ability to make the transition from the infield to behind the plate has been impressive. She is an outstanding offensive player with a great understanding of the game. I am looking forward to putting her name in the lineup this year.”
Barwick is another sophomore that gained tremendous experience as a freshman. She played in all 38 games last year as she hit .297 with 22 RBI, 16 runs scored, and six doubles. She had a .342 on-base percentage and a sterling .983 fielding percentage.
“Michelle will hit in the heart of the order and should be one of our more consistent hitters,” states Patrick-Swift. “She has the ability to hit for more power this year while I believe her average will climb as she continues to mature as a hitter.”
Joining Barwick, Bormann, and Smith on the infield will be freshman Megan Van Meter, as she will hold down second base. She is a very smooth defensive player and should make a very good pivot with Bormann. At the plate, Van Meter is a hitter with gap power and the ability to hit for a high average. Her versatility will allow her to fit into multiple spots in the Spartan everyday lineup.
“Megan is a very talented player and I am excited to see what she can do for us,” states the Spartans’ second-year mentor. “She is a talented defensive player who will give us a quick bat in the lower third of the lineup.”
Returning sophomore Desiree Halaka provides depth for the Spartans in the infield and the outfield while she will be one of the Spartans’ big threats off the bench in pinch-hitting situations.
Patrick-Swift will have a multitude of options when it comes to deciding who lines up on either side of Lawrence in the outfield. Junior Lindsay Wood is one of the more experienced players that will be competing for time in the outfield. Wood hit .255 in 26 games last year. She is a good athlete that has the potential to drive the ball in the gap and also execute in specific hitting situations. Sophomores Karen Carr and Megan Markland are two other returners that will battle for time in the outfield for York.
A group of four newcomers will also be vying for time in the outfield as Caitlin Keppler, Kelly Morrow, Megan Boyer, and Tiffani Williams give Patrick-Swift a strong group of players to choose from to fill out the lineup.
“The thing that I am looking for from our group of outfielders is a few players to step up and seize a starting spot,” says Patrick-Swift. “Another great thing about this group is they are very versatile. A number of them will be used as pinch runners or hitters. I expect them to take advantage of any opportunities they receive during the course of the year. They are all talented and will help make us a very good team.”
One of Patrick-Swift’s preseason concerns was the pitching staff as the Spartans lost their two top pitchers from last year’s squad. That concern was alleviated in the fall with the emergence of freshman Brittany Therres and the arrival of junior transfer Sam Koehl. The duo, along with York’s lone senior Nicole Kerfoot, gives Patrick-Swift a staff she feels very comfortable with. Therres is a very mature pitcher for a freshman. She is a poised pitcher that consistently hits her spots and makes the pitches she needs to be successful. Koehl transfers to York from Hagerstown Community College where she was a two-time Maryland JUCO first-team selection. She is an athletic pitcher that will also be a big offensive threat for the Spartans. Koehl brings a wealth of big-game experience to the Spartan lineup. Kerfoot will be depended on to come out of the pen and get key groundballs for the Green and White.
“I am excited about the potential of our pitching staff. Sam and Brittany are two very talented pitchers that bring a swagger to the circle for us,” says Patrick-Swift. “After watching Sam and Brittany perform, I feel very confident in their ability to help us win. They are really a great one-two punch for us.”
Patrick-Swift is excited about the potential of her squad this year.
“I like the make up of this team. We are young but experienced and I believe we have good chemistry and leadership. I also believe that is an area where we are vastly improved from last year. We have the ability to make plays, either offensively or defensively, when we need them.”
“Offensively, we want to hit the ball up the middle and be very aggressive at the plate. I believe if we are consistent in our offensive approach, teamed with the ability of our pitching staff and defense, we should be a tough team to beat.”
Defensively, the Spartans were one of the top teams in the nation in 2008 as they finished the year ranked 19th in the country in fielding percentage at .970.
The Spartan schedule is significantly upgraded this year as Patrick-Swift wanted to challenge her team and prepare them for the CAC and NCAA Tournaments.
“I believe we have the talent to make an impact on the regional, if not national, level this year. I am excited about the potential of this squad and expect us to be in position to challenge for a CAC championship and an NCAA berth. I am ready to get the season started.”
The Spartans open the season on February 27 at the Methodist Early Bird Tournament in Fayetteville, N.C. The Spartans then spend the first week of March in Kissimmee, FL for a 10-game stay at the Rebel Games. The Spartans are scheduled to play 18 games on the road before making their home debut on March 17 against Susquehanna University.