2009 Season Preview: Experienced Bulldogs Ready For Challenge
Feb. 25, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - It didn't take long for the Yale Softball Class of 2009 to make an impact. During the 2006 spring break trip to Kissimmee, Fla., their first games with the team, Megan Enyeart, Katie Edwards, Rebecca Wojciak and Deanna DiBernardi were major contributors. Enyeart started each of the 14 games and had a team-best .325 average. Edwards also started all 14 games and belted three home runs and led the team with nine RBI. Wojciak won three games in the circle, while DiBernardi posted a stellar 1.24 earned run average in four appearances. It was the start of what have been very productive careers for the quartet. Now, the four are preparing for their final season in New Haven, and they hope to go out with a bang.
"Their commitment on and off the field has been an inspiration to our underclassmen," said head coach Barbara Reinalda of this year's seniors. "They have brought both team and personal success to the Yale Softball program throughout their careers. Each of the four has set a great standard for future softball players at Yale."
Fortunately the Class of 2009 has a strong supporting cast, so the Bulldogs should contend for the Ivy North Division title. Eight starters and 14 letterwinners are back from last year's team that won 20 games.
"The key to our success this season is for each player to work hard at every practice and to work together as one," Reinalda said. "Our success will come when each player performs her best, no matter who we are competing against."
Here is a closer look at the 2009 Bulldogs:
Wojciak and DiBernardi will help form one of the most experienced pitching staffs in the Ivy League. Wojciak is fifth all-time at Yale in career strikeouts with 179 and seventh in career wins with 24. She is a two-time honorable mention All-Ivy selection and led the Yale staff in wins (7), innings pitched (83.1), starts (15) and complete games (7) last year. DiBernardi held opponents to a .227 batting average last year. She has 86 career strikeouts and has pitched in 41 games. Junior Kayla Kuretich should see significant time in the circle as well. She finished with the fifth-best earned run average (2.45) in the Ivy League last year and led Yale with 43 strikeouts. In addition, she walked only 11 batters in 68.2 innings.
Edwards, who has 14 career home runs, only three shy of the school record, has the most experience behind the plate. She is coming off shoulder surgery, however, and could be limited to designated player duties. Sophomore McKynlee Westman started 24 games last year, mostly behind the plate, and was the recipient of the Barbara Chou Leadership Award. Freshman Lexi Peacock (Monterey, CA) adds depth to the catching position. She was the league Player of the Year as a senior at the York School after batting .627 and leading the league in hits, runs scored and RBI.
Enyeart, the team captain, anchors the infield from first base. She has 127 games under her belt and is third all-time at Yale with 29 career doubles, seven shy of the school record. Last year she led the team in doubles with 10 and tied for the team lead in home runs with two. Sophomore second baseman Katie Yanagisawa was one of only two players to appear in all 46 games last year. She finished third in the Ivy League in walks (22) and tied for sixth in stolen bases (10). Junior Allie Canulli, who tied Edwards and Enyeart for the team lead in homers and was third in RBI (16), saw most of the action at third base last year. Canulli, though, suffered an injury playing for the Yale women's basketball team this winter. Sophomore Mariclaire Rebman, who was limited to designated player duties last spring because of an injury, should see time at third as well. She batted .300 in 14 Ivy games and hit .538 in her last five games of the season.
The biggest obstacle Reinalda faces is replacing Aracelis Torres, a four-year starter at shortstop. Sophomore Megan Boon showed promise in her rookie year, batting .300 in 18 games. She was the recipient of the Andy Van Etten Award, which is bestowed upon the player who represents the ideals of Yale softball that go beyond statistics. Freshman Meg Johnson (New Milford, CT) also is a candidate to replace Torres. She had a better than .400 career batting average and was a three-time all-state selection at New Milford High School. Freshman Chelsey Locarno (Boston, MA), who also plays field hockey at Yale, brings excellent speed to the team and could earn time in the infield as well.
Junior centerfielder Ashley Sloan has led the Bulldogs in batting in each of her first two years. Last spring her .377 average was the 10th best in a season in school history, and she led the team in hits (52) and stolen bases (11). For her efforts she was named honorable mention All-Ivy. Junior Lauren Huddleston also earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition after starting a career-high 31 games. She was fifth on the team in batting (.287) and tied for third in doubles (5).
A pair of freshmen will see time in the outfield as well. Chelsea Janes (Longmeadow, MA) was a first team All-Western Massachusetts selection as a junior and senior at Longmeadow High School. Virginia Waldrop (Houston, TX) had a career .404 batting average with 27 doubles, 14 triples, 77 RBI and 32 stolen bases at St John's High School.
The Bulldogs open the season at the Rebel Games in Kissimmee, Fla. Yale plays 12 games beginning on Sunday, Mar. 8.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity