MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The Morrisville State College softball program is making their final preparations for the upcoming 2017 season, which is scheduled to open Monday during Spring Break training in Titusville, Florida.
Second year head coach Brittany Stroop is confident that the veteran laden squad will continue to make strides that the same group saw just a year ago as they improved both their overall and conference records.
Morrisville State returns eight players to the roster this season that nearly doubled the amount of wins the team saw from the year before, including four seniors who will bring a balance that includes three years of experience and a leadership for the Mustangs from all angles of the field.
"We expect to continue to build on that growth," Stroop said. "We are looking for our four seniors to play a critical role in our season as each one has worked to improve their individual skills."
"Senior Liz Miller (East Greenbush, N.Y.) returns to anchor the outfield from her centerfield position for us this season, along with senior Beth Marr (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) to first base and junior Holly Gamlen (Cazenovia, N.Y.) to short stop, providing the leadership needed in our infield."
Kenney and McGuire combined for 41 strike outs a year ago, and will need to step up to fill the void left by Brittany Keator to graduation.
"The biggest difference we will see this year is having Brittany in the dugout rather than on the mound as she transitions to her new role as a student-assistant coach," Stroop said.
Miller, Marr and Gamlen were key playmakers for the Mustangs just a year ago, making critical plays defensively while contributing from the plate as well.
Miller registered a fielding percentage of .955 with her 58 put outs in centerfield last year, also contributing a 27 hit, 18 run performance from the plate.
Marr batted .304 in 2016 and will again look to continue her hot bat as she posted 28 hits on 92 at bats, while scoring seven times and driving in 15 RBI's. The senior, who has started all three seasons at first base, registered a team high .976 fielding percentage off 234 putouts and six assists.
Gamlen will reappear in the lineup at short stop again this season, after boasting a team high 84 assists and 49 put outs defensively a year ago. Her efforts at the plate also led to a .320 batting average as she registered 31 hits in 97 at bats, while collecting 17 RBI's.
"Defensively, I fully expect to see our returners stepping up since they have a full year of knowing what my expectations are," Stroop commented. "I'm also looking for last season's All-Conference performers to improve on last years performance."
Gamlen, a second team All-Conference performer from a year ago, is joined by sophomore Amanda Labe (Friedensburg, Pa.) who is the reigning North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Rookie of the Year and first team All-Conference honoree.
Labe, leadoff batter in the lineup for Morrisville State in 2016, led the Mustangs from the plate, appearing for 104 at bats and posting a .365 batting average behind her 38 hits on the year which included four doubles and four triples. She also posted 15 RBI's on the season and recorded a record setting 27 stolen bases with her speed.
"Offensively, we are looking for another big year from Amanda, both in terms of batting average and her ability to steal a base at any time."
Morrisville State throws out the first pitch of 2017 Monday during their spring break training trip to Titusville, Florida. After completion of six games in the South, the Mustangs will open their home slate with a double-header against Nazareth College on March 25th on their home field, before traveling down the road to Route 20 Rival Cazenovia on the 29th in the conference opener.
The Mustangs will hit the road for two straight, April 1st at Cobleskill and SUNY Poly on the 2nd, before returning home for doubles with Cazenovia on the 5th and Penn College on the 8th.
Non-conference bouts with Canton on the 9th, Potsdam on the 11th and Hamilton on the 12th, will prep the Mustangs for battle with defending champion Keuka College on the 14th in Keuka Park and Wells on the 15th.
Morrisville State returns to their home park on the 18th for a double with Poly, hosting Kings on the 20th in a non-conference battle, before hitting the road for their final road trip to Penn College on the 23rd.
They wrap up the regular season with three straight home contests, Cobleskill on the 25th, Wells on the 28th and Keuka on the 29th.
"I believe we are capable of making playoffs this season," Stroop said. "Last year they were learning who I was as a coach, and vice versa with them as players. This year I expect to see them execute the finer points of the game and get to at least a .500 record as well."
"I'm excited to see what they will do this year," Stroop commented.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2016 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2016 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.