Spring Sports Preview
The barrage of beautiful January days has made it seem like spring has already arrived, which makes the start of the University of Mary Washington’s spring sports seasons in the early parts of February less awkward than usual.
The regular array of spring teams are set to get their 2012 campaigns underway in the coming weeks, as each team begins their quest for Capital Athletic Conference supremacy in their respective sport.
Baseball: Head Coach Tom Sheridan’s team lost just four seniors from last season’s 27–15 team that clawed their way to the CAC conference championship game. Though the departure of Eric Rehbein and Jackson Clement, a pair of first-team All-CAC selections from a year ago, are big losses, Sheridan brings back the rest of the core group that garnered national recognition as a top-25 team in the country at multiple points during the season.
Senior shortstop Brent Steffey returns for his final season, as he looks to pair with sophomore outfielder Beattie Southerland as the primary source of the Eagles offense in 2012. The rotation will be headed by new ace Michael Straub, who will have a fellow junior helping put out fires from the bullpen as key reliever Torey Mancari also returns.
Softball: The Lady Eagles still have a few weeks until their season gets going, as they are the last spring sport to start competing. Head Coach Dee Conway returns every player from last year’s team, which won 20 games and finished second in the CAC regular season standings.
The heart of the 2012 lineup will surely be composed of senior Morgan Lamon and sophomore Bireet Chitty, the pair of premiere hitters from last year’s squad. Junior Brandee Adams will be another key cog to the Eagles offense, as she is Conway’s main threat on the base paths, swiping a team–high 14 bases a year ago. The pitching staff should be in good hands with senior Nicole Black and sophomore Julianne Sweat atop the rotation.
Men’s Lacrosse: After a third place finish in the conference last season with an 11–6 record, the men’s lacrosse team will look to ascend to greater heights this year. Head coach Kurt Glaeser is fortunate to have senior Harry Snyder, who led the team in goals (25) and points (42) in 2011, return for another season.
Fellow senior Sean Dacey will again patrol the field as the team’s top midfielder, but the team will need some other players to step up and fill the void left by the loss of Evan Weiss, Kohl Meyer and Mark Bowler. Senior goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery will be vital to the UMW defense, as he’ll shift from a part-time role last year to the full starting gig this season.
Women’s Lacrosse: The Lady Eagles will look to earn their fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth this season, as they try to improve upon their 13–8 mark from a year ago. The offense is the strength of the women’s lacrosse team, as they scored 529 goals as a team in 2011. Senior midfielder Catherine Kennedy returns to put an end to her illustrious UMW career, as she’ll attempt to top her remarkable 115–point outburst last season (79 goals and 36 assists). Senior Allie Kimmelman is also back following her 89–point campaign (31 goals and 58 assists), as is fellow senior Lauren Callison, who was second on the team with 52 goals.
Head coach Dana Hall will have a new primary goalkeeper this season, as junior Kathryn Stiltz steps in to replace Danni Guigli who departed via graduation. Sophomore defender Kathleen Mastropaolo, who earned all-conference recognition last season, will be key to helping protect the back end and making Stiltz’s job easier.
Men’s Tennis: Head coach Todd Helbling will have to make due for the first time in four years without UMW staple and last year’s CAC Player of the Year Kaz Murata, who graduated in May 2011. A lot of responsibility now falls on senior Riley Baver, who not only needs to perform well on the courts, but also needs to lead a young team that is littered with seven underclassmen, including five freshmen.
While Baver is one of just two seniors on this team, he’s not the lone talent remaining following Murata’s departure. The Eagles return three other athletes who earned all-conference accolades last season, as sophomore Alex Blakhin and juniors Will Apperson and Sam Wichlin join Helbing’s unit for another year. The top four on the team appear more than adequate given their performance in recent years, but the development of the young players will be important to the depth of this team and their ability to steal points in those lower matches.
Women’s Tennis: The tradition of excellence for the women’s tennis team is well-documented, as the Lady Eagles are in search of their ninth straight conference championship and their 14th straight NCAA Tournament berth.
Despite the fact that the careers of Courtney Goimarac and Meg Lawlor have come to a close, head coach Patrick Catullo still returns six players who were garnered with all-conference honors last spring. Senior Michelle Meadows returns for one last go around, and the team also has last season’s CAC Rookie of the Year, current sophomore Lindsay Raulston, back as well.