Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Entering the 2010 season, the West Chester University Golden Rams softball team has aspirations of making their first ever PSAC tournament. After winning 28 games last season and returning 10 letter winners from a year ago, they are as confident as they have been in recent memory.”We have 10 returning letter winners and practically our entire starting line-up back,” head coach Diane Lokey said. “So, our expectations are high. Our goal is always to make it to the PSAC playoffs, which no softball team in our school history has done, and we feel we can accomplish that this year. We also want to continue to reach the NCAA tourney and win over 30 games.”

Achieving this goal will not be an easy task. The Golden Rams will have to replace Shannon Padula, one of the best pitchers, if not the best, in school history. Padula recorded the most wins (61) in school history during her career. She also had the most innings pitched in a career with 721.1 while recording a stellar 2.55 career ERA. Padula made the most appearances with 146, while pitching the second most complete games with 81 and the most career shutouts – 17. Her 366 career strikeouts were also the most in WCU history.

Even without their most prolific pitcher, West Chester still has a ton of talent on the team to make up for the loss.

“We have a lot of experience and depth on this team,” Lokey said. “Junior pitcher Brooke Muth, a transfer from Chipola College, is a key newcomer who will look to handle a great deal of the pitching duties.”

Another pitcher who is also going to be important in replacing Padula is sophomore Samantha Soprano. In her freshman campaign, Soprano finished 11-7 with a 3.01 ERA while striking out 39 batters.

Offensively for the Golden Rams, they will be led by all-conference first baseman Megan Harbaugh. Harbaugh finished last season with a .336 batting average, was third on the team with three homeruns and fourth on the team with 25 RBI’s.

Also returning to bolster the offense is junior catcher Kate Kmiecinski. She finished last season with a .361 batting average, a team-leading seven homeruns and third with 30 RBI’s. Senior all-conference shortstop Sam Ingersoll also returns. The senior finished last season with .366 batting average, five homeruns and a team-leading 53 RBI’s.

Junior all-conference, all-region and All-American outfielder Erin MacNamee also is returning to anchor the outfield. She finished last year with a team-leading .430 batting average, five homeruns, 32 RBI’s and a team-high 15 stolen bases.

“Offensively, we have a great combination of speed and power,” Lokey said. “As a group, we need to learn from our experiences from 2009, and work hard at getting better at the plate every day.”

Even though offense sells tickets, defense wins championships, and that is one thing the coaches have been stressing this off-season.

“Defensively, we want to improve on our overall fielding average from 2009 and improve on making the big play, which championship teams need to do to win the big games,” Lokey said.

This past week, the coaches in the PSAC voted on the favorites in each division, and West Chester was picked to finish third in the PSAC East, exactly where they finished last year. Defending PSAC East champion Kutztown was picked to finish first in the East once again. The preseason standings are as followed:

East

1. Kutztown (3)

2. Shippensburg (2)

3. West Chester

4. East Stroudsburg

5. Millersville

With the season right around the corner, the Golden Rams are ready to get out and put their off-season work to the test and to prove all the naysayers wrong.

“We start play on the 26th at the Catawba Tourney,” Lokey said. “We are excited to get going – to get out of the gym, see grass and play ball.”

West Chester’s first home game will take place on March 2 against Philadelphia University in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. The PSAC East schedule opens up on March 18 beginning at 2 p.m. in a doubleheader against Kutztown University.

LJ Harrell is a fourth-year student majoring in Marketing. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.

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