Softball Looks To Reclaim BIG EAST Crown
Feb. 1, 2000
Chestnut Hill, Mass. - With the core of last season's lineup returning and a strong group of incoming freshmen, Boston College is looking to win their third BIG EAST title in four years and return to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence.
The Eagles are led by fifth-year coach Jennifer Finley, the 1998 BIG EAST Coach of the Year. In her first four seasons at the helm, Finley has helped the Eagles become a conference power and a team that is capable of competing with the nation's best.
The Eagles will be looking to a pair of freshmen to help improve their infield. Newcomers Cara Blumfield and Jennifer Asbury will be counted on to fill the shortstop and second base positions right away. Both should help the Eagles become more solid defensively up the middle.
Senior Chris Vicari, who led the Eagles with eight home runs and 38 runs batted in a year ago, will move over from first base to third, while senior tri-captain Lauren Fischetti will take over at first base. Vicari was second on the team last season with a .356 batting average, and her .988 fielding percentage was the highest among last year's regulars.
Fischetti will be looking to improve upon her .202 batting average from last spring. Also expected to contribute in the infield are junior Jennifer Perrotta and sophomore Jennifer Lombardi.
Perrotta, the 1998 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, saw her numbers dip slightly last season, but she will be looking to return to form this spring and raise her .263 batting average. Lombardi hit .178 in fairly limited action as a freshman.
With everyone returning from last year's outfield, Finley should have plenty of depth at her disposal this season -- so much so that she may not be able to decide on a starting lineup before the season opener. Seniors Gretchen Thompson, Julie Ulbrich, and Cristin Brown are all returning starters, but according to Finley, the starting positions "haven't been set in stone."
Ulbrich was sixth on the club last year with a .264 batting average, while Brown hit .257 and Thompson finished with a .224 average. All three are also among the team's top baserunners -- Ulbrich was the team's top base-stealer last season and Brown led the club in 1998.
Sophomores Leah Kamataris and Jaclyn Woitkowski will also be competing for time in the outfield. Both were primarily used off the bench last spring as a designated hitter or a pinch runner. Woitkowski finished fifth on the Eagles with a .286 average, while Kamataris had one hit in just three at-bats. Also expected to contribute are freshmen Allison Erbig and Lisa Fischer.
The Eagles expect quite a bit more from their pitching staff this spring, with all of their hurlers returning from last year's club and the arrival of highly-touted freshman Kimberly Ryan, who struck out 897 batters and tossed 16 no-hitters during her high school career.
Senior tri-captain Mary Dietz, a three-time All-BIG EAST First Team selection, headlines the returning crop on the mound. Dietz, who earned BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week Honors three times last spring, was 12-8 for Boston College in 1999, striking out 195 batters and posting a 2.12 earned run average. Dietz and Ryan should help to give the Eagles one of the league's top rotations. Sophomore
Brooke Shull, who went 4-1 last spring with a 3.39 ERA, will also see plenty of work on the mound, as will Thompson and Fischetti. Thompson was 7-10 a year ago, while Fischetti posted a 4-2 mark.
Behind the plate, the Eagles will be counting on junior tri-captain Summer Jarratt, who joined Dietz on the All-BIG EAST First Team last season. Jarratt led the team with a .373 batting average and tied for the club lead with 25 runs batted in. Perrotta may also see some action behind the plate.