Softball struggles to start season

Matthew Clark

Snubbed. That’s what happened to the Villanova Softball team last year. After a great 34-15-1 record, as well as a trip to the Big East championship, ‘Nova was snubbed from the NCAA championship tournament.

This years team consists of 11 letter winners from last years team, including Ricci Lugo and Lisa Krueger, who were All-Big East First Team. Lugo will hold down the infield at second with freshman Sheri Donley as her double play teammate at shortstop. Kari Koller, who led the team with seven homeruns last year, will play first and will also add depth to the pitching staff and Sarah Wall will take care of things at third base. Freshman Koening Coassandra and junior Veronica Alvarez are splitting time behind the plate.

Krueger was originally in centerfield but broke her left hand on a diving catch in Houston on Feb. 29 against Virginia. She could be out anywhere from four weeks to the entire season. Krueger can red shirt this year and save a year of eligibility, a move she hasn’t thought about so far.

Due to Krueger’s injury, senior Robin Flier moved to center field, where she is errorless thus far. Flier is batting .308 in 52 plate appearances and is fourth in career stolen bases here at Villanova. Filling the open spot in left field is freshman Lindsey Martin while Kristen Yauch and Alison Wisniewski share time in right field.

The pitching staff is led by ace Shannon Williams with a 1.52 ERA in 83 innings of work. Kristen Hayes has started five games and has yet to give up a walk and is fifth in Villanova’s record book in saves.

When not on the field, Wisniewski and Alvarez contribute as the designated hitter along with Kristen Strait.

“We will be fine when we start play in the Big East,” Lisa Krueger said.

The ‘Cats were ranked second in the Big East in preseason polls, but have stumbled out of the gate with a record of 7-10. This could be largely attributed to the loss of pitcher Theresa Hornick and catcher Kristen Romano.

“We are going to need our pitchers to account for the loss of Theresa and I am confident they will do so”, head coach Maria DiBernardi said. “[Romano was] the best defensive catcher in Villanova history.”

‘Nova’s season opened on Feb. 20 in Tennessee. The girls then traveled to Texas and Florida for various tournaments.

“Playing 17 games in 10 days was tough, but good for our team,” Lugo said. “We were able to realize what we need to work on by playing different types of teams and seeing multiple pitchers.”

In the Speedline Invitational, the Wildcats went 2-4, taking fifth place. The highlight of the tournament Williams, who in five straight days pitched 34.4 innings giving up 24 hits and only six earned runs. This is due in part to the Wildcat defense, which has a .967 fielding percentage and is currently ranked third in the Big East.

Villanova (0-0; 7-10) hosts Cornell (0-0; 5-0) in their home opener this Sunday at noon.