With the frigid temperatures and the massive amounts of snowfall that have hit UMW in recent weeks, it’s hard to believe that spring sports could even be close to getting started. But in fact, many teams are set to get their seasons underway in the near future, so let’s delve into how each team is looking heading into what will hopefully be successful seasons for all.
The men’s tennis team was set to be the first spring sport to get started, but both of their home matches scheduled for last weekend were postponed due to the blizzard that struck the university. They are now ready to get their spring season kicked off this Saturday with two home matches against East Carolina and James Madison University.
The men’s squad is already getting respect from their showing back in the fall, as they were ranked 19th nationally in the first poll taken back in November. The team looks to defend their CAC crown, and they’re still headed by Coach Todd Helbling, who was named the 2009 CAC Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career.
But while Helbling returns, his top player from a year ago does not: two-time CAC Player of the Year John James has since graduated from the university. Other noticeable losses include Randy Loden and Jason Dunn, who combined for 14 All-CAC awards during their time at UMW.
But while the team has lost some great talent, UMW is known for their superb tennis tradition. The men’s tennis team has won 10 straight CAC titles and they have had the CAC Player of the year in 10 of the last 12 seasons.
This season the team will be led by junior Kaz Murata, who was All-CAC first-team for doubles and All-CAC second-team for singles in 2009. Sophomore Riley Baver is also a player to watch in 2010, as he was named to the All-CAC second-team for singles as a freshman and could take the next step this year.
The women’s tennis team will take the courts the day following the men, Sunday, Feb. 14, to set the ball rolling on their spring season. The ladies will be at home to take on Towson University in their first match of the spring.
Like the men’s team, the Eagles’ women’s tennis team was also ranked inside the top 25 teams nationally back in November at No. 14 in the country. The women will look to build on a phenomenal season last year where they went the entire season without falling outside the national rankings top 15. Head Coach Patrick Catullo returns and looks to continue the upward trend that he has put UMW women’s tennis on since he became the head man back in 2004.
Coach Catullo has a young squad to work with, as the team only has one senior and more than half the team is made up of underclassmen. All-American Becky Morse-Karzen graduated, but there is a lot of young talent on the team to continue the strong tradition that Catullo and the Eagles have kept going in recent years. Junior Courtney Goimarac was the team’s No. 2 player last year, but will presumably move up into the top spot with the departure of Morse-Karzen. Sophomores Katie Schafer and Michelle Meadows appear to round out the top three for UMW this spring.
The Eagles baseball squad’s opening day is set for Saturday, with a home double-header vs. Eastern Mennonite University on slate to start at noon. The team looks to improve upon a decent 2009 season. The team went 15-17 overall and finished fourth in the CAC standings with 7-11 record in conference play. Head coach Tom Sheridan returns for his 23rd season as the Eagles manager and has a lot of young talent to work worth as he only lost four seniors from last years team. The problem for coach Sheridan is that one of the seniors he lost was outstanding pitcher Andrew Cox.
Cox was a first-team All-CAC player and a third-team All-Region selection last year as he posted a 6-4 record and 3.19 ERA. The UMW pitching staff was a weak spot last season, as the team ERA was just under 5, and losing a pitcher the caliber of Cox certainly won’t help.
Senior infielder Will Wright will hope to lead the team with his big bat. Wright batted a team high .382 last year and also was tops on the team in RBI, doubles, runs, total bases, slugging percentage and on base percentage. The good bat of former Eagle Bryan Quintana is now gone from the lineup, but junior Eric Rehbein and sophomore Santino Rosanova will look to build on solid campaigns last year and help give aid to Wright.
Defensively the team ranked third in the conference a season ago with a .957 fielding percentage. This season they will once again be led by the outstanding defensive play of junior outfielder Jackson Clement. Clement was named as a Regional Gold-Glove team last year after going the entire season without an error and adding three outfield assists to boot.
It will be very tough for Mary Washington to dethrone perennial powerhouse Salisbury University, but nonetheless the Eagles looks to be on the right track toward success and have a chance to move up in the conference standings from a season ago.
The UMW men’s lacrosse team will begin their season on the road this Saturday with a game against Virginia Wesleyan College. Head Coach Kurt Glaeser will look for his team to improve upon last year’s up and down season in which the Eagles went 8-7 overall and finished sixth in the CAC standings with just a 2-5 record in conference play. UMW was also ousted in the first round of the CAC tournament to Salisbury University.
In order for the team to turn around, Coach Glaeser will need some new players to step up and fill the shoes of Brent Fisk and Charlie White, his top two point leaders from a year ago who have since graduated. Seniors Dan Coats and Brian Deal are the two who seem likely to rise to the challenge, as Coats led the team in assists last season with 15 and Deal was second on the team in goals with 21.
The team’s goal scoring as a whole needs to improve in conference matches, as UMW scored 133 goals in 15 games last year, but managed just 53 of those goals in their seven games verse conference opponents.
The goal will be defended once again by junior Ryan Kleman, who posted 165 saves a year ago while allowing 117 goals. If the team cannot find an uptick in scoring, more pressure shifts to Kleman to stop the other team from posting points in order to keep the Eagles in the game.
Meanwhile, the women’s lacrosse team will get their season underway with a road match of their own on Saturday, Feb. 20 against St. Mary’s College. Head coach Dana Hall and the lady’s lacrosse team had a good year in ’09, finishing third in the conference with a 5-2 record and going 14-8 overall. The team had seven ladies finish with over 20 points last year and six of those players return including their top three point leaders.
Not only does UMW return many of their prominent point leaders, but three of the girls are only sophomores and will continue to wreak havoc on their CAC opponents for years to come. Sophomore Catherine Kennedy was superb in her freshman campaign in ’09, finishing with a team high 77 goals and adding 12 assists to finish with another team high of 89 points. Sophomore Allie Kimmelman was second on the team with 86 points, but she was much more balanced as she finished the season with 43 goals and 43 assists. But the stability and leadership of a talented upper-classman is always needed on teams, and junior Katie Wallis should fill that role. Wallis was third on the team in second on the team in both goals and assists and finished third on the team in points.
The question surrounding this team will be the goal keeper. The team has a pair of freshman vying for the starting spot in Kathryn Stiltz and Leigh Ann Redefer and one of the two will need to step up and take control of the goal. It is unclear how these two freshman will respond, but if one of them can play as well behind goal as freshman sensations Kennedy and Kimmelman did last year at the midfielder spot, UMW has nothing to worry about.
The UMW softball team is tied with women’s lacrosse as the final sport to break ground on their spring season. The Eagles softball team’s first game will be a home game on Saturday, Feb. 20 with the season’s first opponent being Messiah College. The softball team went 25-16-1 last spring and finished third in the CAC standings with a 9-3 mark in conference play.
The team returns star senior shortstop Kaitlin Petrella, who led the team with a .412 batting average a season ago. Petrella also led the team in slugging percentage, on base percentage, total bases, doubles and triples. The team also returns their leading RBI producer from last year in sophomore Elizabeth Crowe, but they will certainly miss the departure of Cathy Hull, who was top two on the team in 10 different batting categories last year.
But as much as the softball team will miss Hull, it surely will not be to the same extent that they miss star pitcher Kristen Rowell. The team’s workhorse pitched 215.1 innings last season and finished with a 1.14 ERA, 306 strikeouts and a .171 batting average against. With Rowell graduating, someone will need to step up and take command of the rotation. It could be the aforementioned Crowe, who had seven appearances last year but finished with an ERA of 7.60 or possibly even freshman Annie Blaine.
All the spring sports teams at UMW are ready to get going here in 2010 and it appears to be yet another bright season for Eagles athletics.