Newcomers look to make statement
After finishing the 2012 season with a 25-30 overall record, and just falling short of making the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, Towson has high hopes for the 2013 season.
In the CAA preseason poll, Towson was picked to finish fourth in the conference.
After losing eight seniors to graduation since last season, the new freshman players are the team’s secret weapons, senior outfielder Stevie Patnode said.
“Other schools know very little to nothing about them and have never seen them play. I think it’s a great advantage on our behalf,” Patnode said.
The Tigers will be returning 13 letter-winners and six starters this season.
Entering her 18th season, Head Coach Lisa Costello said she is also looking forward to the contribution that a team with these dynamics will bring to the field.
“They are a very athletic group and work really hard,” Costello said.
The Tigers have strong leaders this year with outfielder Kelli Lyons and catcher Jillian Donnelly, both seniors, paired up with sophomore infielder Emily Miller as the Tigers 2013 captains.
“The upperclassmen have done a really nice job showing them what to do,” Costello said. “They really set the tone for us. Seniors Bina Abbott and Katie Lingmai have been doing a nice job leading the team as well.”
Lingmai is the only pitcher in program history to record more than 200 strikeouts in one season.
She also holds the program record for all-time strikeouts with 524.
Returning at shortstop is sophomore Hailey Balk, who was named the second team All-CAA last season.
Out of all the Tigers, Balk had the highest batting average of .350.
She also finished third with the highest number of runs batted in.
During the preseason, Towson trained vigorously, changing its workouts and practices. Striving for success, each player completed a total of 10,000 swings for the off-season.
“If we wanted the same results as the prior season, we would have kept doing the same thing,” Patnode said.
With a goal to continue improving week-by-week, the Tigers’ schedule becomes tougher game by game.
“Our conference is filled with great teams, but as long as we stay within ourselves and give every play everything we have, then I don’t see why we wouldn’t come out on top,” Lyons said.
Towson’s 2013 journey began Friday, Feb. 8 at the ECU Pirate Classic.
The team walked away with a 4-1 record, beating Cleveland State, Ohio and Rider, but suffering a loss from East Carolina.
“From our very first practice until now, every single girl has worked so hard to better themselves and our team,” Lyons said. “I am very excited for this season and it is definitely going to be an exciting ride.”
The Tigers resume play at the College of Charleston Classic against East Tennessee State, Syracuse, James Madison, Akron and the College of Charleston Feb. 15-17 in Charleston, S.C.
“Baseball and softball. It’s the game of the streaks. Hopefully our streaks last a long time,” Costello said.