The Hamilton College softball program returns seven starters and aims to reach new heights in 2015 with the addition of five first-years. Starting catcher Sam Miller ’14, who closed out her career with a 2014 NESCAC All-Conference Team selection after leading the Continentals with a .340 batting average, has graduated. The squad also must replace infielder Chelsea Merritt ’14 and Jenn Rougeux ’14, who started every game in the outfield last season.Kelly Leonard ’15 returns to the circle and leads the returners after three successful seasons. Leonard set the program single-season record for strikeouts (116) in 2012 and tied for third in the NESCAC with four shutouts in 2013. Leonard needs just 29 strikeouts to break the team’s career record. Rounding out the senior class is returning shortstop Ellie Kiernan ‘15, third baseman Talia Mercado ‘15 and pitcher/first baseman Monique St. Jarre ’15. All three plan to build on their successes this year and leave their mark on the program. Both Leonard and St. Jarre lead in the classroom as well, earning NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team honors in 2014.
Zoe Singer ’18 will add a solid arm to the pitching rotation and Hannah Staab ’17 may steal a few innings. Behind the plate, the team turns to Becca Butler ’17, Daphne Assimakopoulos ’17, Olivia Gozdz ’16 and Mackenzie Doherty ’18 to compete for the starting position.
The Continentals will work to return to one of the top spots in the conference for fielding percentage just like they did in 2013 when they were second with a mark of .962. In the infield, two-time captain and three-year starter Kiernan is back at shortstop. Butler, Phoebe Collins ’18 and Shen Lu Swartout ’18 will all fight for innings at second base. Assimakopoulos returns to add innings both in the infield and outfield. Mercado, St. Jarre, Becca Ryan ’17, Butler, Staab and Singer will compete for innings on the corners. In the outfield, Gozdz will take over for the graduated Rougeux in center. Gozdz – a team captain -- is the program’s first-ever first team NESCAC All-Conference selection (2013). Staab, Leonard and speedy first-years Julia Carpenter ’18 and Collins round out the outfield.
At the plate, the Continentals aim to break the records for hits and doubles they set in 2013. Last year Staab led the team in hits and set a single-season record for at-bats. Butler led the squad in home runs and batting average. Gozdz and Kiernan round out the group of top hitters from 2014.
The team is scheduled to kick off the season with 13 contests during a 10-day spring break trip to the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, in March. The Continentals open their highly competitive NESCAC West Division schedule on the road against Amherst College on March 27 and 28. The first home dates are scheduled for April 3 and 4 against NESCAC West rival Wesleyan University. For the first time, all home games can be followed online through live video streaming courtesy of Northeast Sports Network. The Continentals also host Middlebury College for three games on April 10 and 11, and round out their NESCAC West schedule with a trip to Williams College on April 24 and 25.