Wesleyan softball will look to make a big impact in the NESCAC this year, as the Cards enter the season having lost only three players from last year’s squad. This year, the team, led by tri-captains Dayna Yorks ’07, Molly Gaebe ’07 and Marcia Whitehead ’08, will include 11 former letter-winners, two returning upperclassmen and three rookies.

Of the 11 returnees, the Cardinals will rely on last year’s top hitters, Gaebe and Whitehead, who finished the year batting .380 and .375 respectively, to lead the Cardinal offense. Gaebe also silenced opposing teams from the mound, recording an impressive 3.05 ERA.

Joining her on the rubber will be Wesleyan’s other two top pitchers, Karla Hargrave ’08, and Yorks. Hargrave led the team in innings pitched last year with 102 as well as in strikeouts (111) and ERA (2.95) while Yorks often brought strong relief in the late innings. Supplementing the returning pitching arsenal will be Meaghan Dendy ’10 who has already faired well in preseason scrimmages.

In the infield, three returning starters will support the pitchers: Whitehead at third base, Molly O’Connell ’09 at shortstop and Katie Grogan ’09 at second base. At first base, the Cardinals have depth to choose from in Yorks, Allison Zoromski ’07, and newcomer Sara Shor ’10. Behind the plate, Joanna Brownson ’08 and Nikki Katz ’09, who both saw game time last season, complete the Cardinal infield.

The outfield is also full of returnees, led by Becca Feiden ’08. Julia Chamberlin ’09, Elena Bertocci ’09, Alicia Collen ’08 as well as Alexa David ’10 will all bring speed and range.

The Cardinals will kick off their season on the west coast over spring break, playing twelve different teams, ten in California’s Sun West Tournament, and two double-headers against California’s Pomona and Whittier colleges.

“We’re really looking forward to the California trip for both wins and some team bonding,” Chamberlain said. “It will be our first time out of the field house and we are really excited for that. The competition will be tough though, since the Cali teams have had a chance to practice outside for a while now.”

While wins in California, with the exception of a match up against the Tufts Jumbos, will not count toward the Cards’ NESCAC standing, the games will be important in setting the tone for the rest of the season.

Last year, the Cardinals missed qualifying for the annual NESCAC tournament, winning only one of their eight NESCAC West matches.

“We are really looking to step it up this year,” O’Connell said. “We lost a lot of close games last year and have made it one of our goals to make NESCACs.”

This year, the conference has made some changes, most notably increasing the number of times each team faces their division opponents from two to three.

“We think this new format will play to our strength of a strong, deep pitching staff, enabling us to outlast other teams,” Whitehead said.

The Cardinal’s will host their home opener on March 27 against Pine Manor College at 4:30 p.m.

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