Led by 5 seniors, softball looks to rebound

Softball team has something to prove this season. After finishing 19-20 last year and failing to win the NESCAC West for the first time since 2001, the team is looking for redemption.

In her 21 seasons as a head softball coach – the last five seasons having been spent at the College – Head Coach Kris Herman has a 449-214-3 record, a .676 win percentage. She has led the Ephs to four NESCAC West championships and three outright NESCAC championships in the past five years, and hopes to bring back that winning tradition this year after the team’s slight hiccup in 2008. “Our goals always are to win the NESCAC and beat Amherst,” Herman said. Accomplishing at least one of the team’s goals will not be easy by any means, as the rest of the NESCAC will be extremely competitive this year. “I think Tufts is the team to beat – they’ve won the league the past two years and have eight seniors this year, all whom have played a lot.”

This year’s team will be anchored by five returning seniors: shortstop Joey Lye ’09, outfielder Becky Stansone ’09, utility player Libby Copeland-Halperin ’09 and pitchers Emily Fowler-Cornfield ’09 and Morgan Simpson ’09. Instead of having captains, the softball team will rely on these five “senior leaders” to lead the rest of the 12-man roster, which includes a junior, four sophomores and two first-years. “Since the five of us account for almost half of the team, it will be important for us all to be on the same page,” Lye said. “Together we can have a pretty big impact on the rest of the girls.”

For Lye, the upcoming season will serve as an encore to an already historical career as a soon-to-be four-year starter. Lye, an All-American in 2008, possesses single-season school records in batting with a .504 average, hits with 64 and total bases with 87. She is also tied in the record book for career batting with a .427 average, is quickly approaching career records in four other offensive statistical categories, and has potential to break a few others. “She loves the game and is a very talented player, but she is also just a really fun person and kid to be around,” Herman said. “She certainly is a good one to have on our side.”

The rest of the senior class fills out the list of the team’s returning impact players. The all-around offensive threat in Sansone, the prolific power hitting of Copeland-Halperin, the 2.40 earned run average of Simpson and the .833 win percentage of Fowler-Cornfield will all be returning to the softball diamond this coming spring in hopes of recapturing the NESCAC title.

Over spring break, the Ephs will travel to Anaheim, Calif. where they will participate in the Sunwest Tournament. In what will be the women’s first week of regular season action, they will face off against both in-conference rival Middlebury and 2007 Div. III National Champion Linfield College. The Ephs will then face off against one of the most prominent Div. III softball programs in the NCAA: The University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minn., who were the 2004 and 2005 Div. III National Champions. The team’s 15-game road trip will conclude with games against various other talented California teams before returning to New England for in-conference games.

With a talented roster and experience across the entire field, the Ephs will be the team to watch in the NESCAC West this year. As Coach Herman put it, “We’re gonna be fun; I mean that is one of our goals, to have fun but also to be fun – especially fun to watch.”