It’s hard to believe that it’s March and winter sports are wrapping up. As the weather finally begins to warm up, it can only signal the start of the spring sports season. The College’s spring sports teams hope to improve upon their performances last year and achieve successful seasons.
2004 Record: 22-12
When the College’s baseball team opens its season against Salisbury University in Maryland, they will begin their quest for a return to the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) postseason after failing to qualify last season with a sixth place finish.
“We’re eyeing ourselves to get to the conference playoffs,” head coach Rick Dell said. “It’s something we set as a goal and it’s realistic.”
After the graduation of Mike Sanborn, the College’s Pitcher of the Year last season, and Julius Jenkins, two-time New Jersey Fireman of the Year as the top reliever, the Lions’ playoff hopes will rest upon a pitching staff that will feature a mixture of both young and experienced talent.
“We’re talented and young so we’re going to have to be patient and continue to get better all the time,” Dell said.
Seniors Brad Downs and Vincent Petrillo, who combined for a 9-4 record last year, will return to anchor the Lions’ staff.
The sophomore trio of Brian Kraus, William Opel and Blake Ortiz, who compiled just 39 1-3 innings as a group last season, round out the younger part of the Lions’ staff that will be expected to shoulder more of the pitching responsibilities this spring. Dell hopes junior Ryan Casey will bounce back from a rough sophomore season.
“Pitching is always key,” Dell said. “You always have to pitch well. You have to throw strikes and catch ground balls. When we’ve done that, we’ve had some success.”
Junior Richard Kropp, who batted .325 last season, will man shortstop for the Lions and sophomore Gerard Haran, last season’s NJAC Rookie of the Year, will return behind the plate. Junior Chris Wilson, an all-region selection and a .419 batter last season, will return to the outfield and sophomore Blake Bullis, another key performer last season, will be back at third base again.
“We’ve got a host of people who can really contribute,” Dell said about his position players.
The Lions hope to receive a boost from newcomer Mike Bruschini, a junior infielder and transfer from Rider University, while sophomore first baseman Ben Brown and senior catcher Justin Gorski will return for the Lions.
The current group of players, which Dell said has as much potential as the 2002 Division III World Series qualifying squad, will have to prove they can focus on a daily basis to succeed. “Teams that focus everyday are going to be there at the end,” he said.
– Matt Conklin, Sports Assistant
2004 Record: 22-13-1
The prospect of improving upon last year’s record seems more than likely for the College’s softball team, which is ranked fifth in the NJAC preseason coaches’ poll.
The Lions feature four returning all-conference players, including senior outfielder Kristen Zimmerman, senior pitcher Jessica Donohue, senior second baseman Cristina Venetucci and sophomore pitcher Jessica Kohut.
Entering her 10th year coaching for the Lions, head coach Sally Miller attributes her optimism about the upcoming spring season to the amount of talent and experience from which this year’s squad is sure to benefit.
“We have a lot of experienced players coming back this year,” Miller said. “Last year’s team was immensely talented but the experience wasn’t always there. This year, many of our younger players will have a year under them and will also benefit from the leadership of the upperclassmen.”
The Lions will look to several key players to lead the team. Zimmerman, co-captain, brings a potent bat to the lineup (she batted .413 last season) and solid defense from the outfield. Likewise, co-captain Donohue will lead the Lion’s pitching staff, having been a reliable starter the last two years. Venetucci will be a weapon with her speed and consistent contact hitting. Kohut will provide a quality bat in the lineup and a quality arm on the pitching staff.
Look for sophomore shortstop Erin Cusmano to provide some power and consistency from the infield, as she started all 36 games last season. Sophomore outfielder Kristin Boyer will look to improve upon her stellar rookie campaign where she flashed some power from the leadoff spot as she, too, started all 36 games.
The Lions will also benefit from the versatility that this year’s team can supply. “I believe we’re going to be able to pull kids off the bench to fill certain rolls more so than we’ve been able to do in the past,” Miller said.
Look for junior Kelly Quigley, who had a successful fall with her bat, to help in the infield and on the mound. Junior utility player Kristin Meister will also look to fill several roles as she has made adjustments in her swing. Expect to see more of sophomore outfielder Jen Hughes, whose ability to drive the ball will give her an important roll in the lineup.
The Lions hope to get off to a fast start as they open their season on March 5 in Kissimmee, Fla. with a series of five double-headers.
– Tim Fox, Staff Writer
2004 Record: 18-1-0
After an extremely tough loss in the championship game last year, the College’s women’s lacrosse team seems to have all the pieces in place to once again make a run at the championship.
In last year’s championship game, the College suffered a 13-11 double overtime loss to Middlebury College, their fifth second-place finish in school history. In the preseason polls, the College is ranked second and Middlebury is ranked first.
The College lost five key starters to graduation last year, including Katie Wagenblast, the team’s points leader, and Carin Heller, the top goal-scorer. However, the Lions still have a lot of experience returning, including three All-Americans: junior midfielders Lauren Dougher and Bridget Bigley and senior midfielder Lauren Gossner.
Dougher contributed 61 goals and 16 assists last season, while Bigley contributed 44 goals and Gossner 32.
Junior goalkeepers Megan Marquardt and Paige Lucard will return to guard the nets behind a tough Lions defense.
After experiencing what the team went through last year, senior defenseman Heather Rainey said this is the year to win the championship.
“Last year had a very upsetting ending, so this year means a lot to us,” Rainey said. “Our team is very determined to do well.”
Another thing the women are well aware of is that if they do make it to the championship, the match will take place right here at the College. This is something that will certainly be in the back of their minds all season.
“Having the championship on our own turf means so much to us,” Rainey said. “It makes it an even bigger accomplishment for our team to achieve this year.”
Some of the big matches to keep an eye on for the College this year are the match-ups against Drew and Rowan Universities, which are both ranked in the top 20 nationally. The first game of the season will be on March 8 in Orlando, Fla. against Widener University.
– Scott Miccio, Staff Writer
2003-04 Women’s Record: 14-3
2003-04 Men’s Record: 8-6
The College’s men’s and women’s tennis teams return to the courts with endless talent and high expectations for the spring. The women are coming off last year’s record of 14-3 and look to build on their success.
The Lions graduated only one impact player from last year, sixth singles and second doubles player Katie Richards. In her final season, the last four matches depended on her and she came away with victories each time.
Returning starters include junior captain Jackie Gavornik, senior Katie D’Amato and sophomores Kristen Turturiello and Ayumi Yamazaki.
Last year, Gavornik received the Coach’s Award, ITA All-American honors in both singles and doubles, All-NJAC honors, and NJAC All-Star honors in both singles and doubles. D’Amato, the lone senior, is a four-year starter for the Lions and was named 2001 NJAC Rookie of the Year.
Turturiello and Yamazaki have each had stellar rookie seasons accompanied by NJAC Rookie of the Week selections in 2003. This past fall, Turturiello was named NJAC All-Star on both the singles and doubles squad while Yamazaki received NJAC Player of the Week recognition four times along with being named to the NJAC All-Star Singles Team.
Besides the returning starters, the Lions’ roster boasts freshman Christina Contrafatto, who was named 2004 NJAC Rookie and Player of the Year and named to the NJAC All-Star Singles and Doubles Teams as well.
Sophomore Karen Shih has also made a name for herself on the doubles court.
“Karen is a solid doubles player,” head coach Scott Dicheck said. “She has also been in the singles lineup and she’s done quite well.”
Also adding to the lineup are sophomore Jackie Pryzbylkowski and freshman Ariel Donohue, who continually fight for singles spots.
Since 1982, the Lions have been undefeated in NJAC league matches. As of the end of the 2004 fall season, the record improved to 106-0 with 22 conference championships. Dicheck has high expectations for the women’s team this season and hopes to only build on the success the team has already had.
Men’s tennis is returning from an 8-6 record last year with an objective to improve their numbers this spring.
One player the team will miss is Brian Hanley, who graduated in 2004. Hanley was a talented first doubles and second singles player who had a solid career. The Lions, however, have much more talent left from last year including some promising additions to their roster.
Returning starters include sophomore co-captain Ryan Carty, junior co-captain Justin Cook, sophomore Corey Ball and seniors Victor Lai and Ken Tsui. Carty is currently ranked 18th regionally and hopes to improve as the year goes on.
Joining the Lions this year are freshmen Michael Klimchak, Donald Pollosco and Eric Ferriere. Dicheck believes that these three players have grealty strengthened the team and that they are an outstanding addition to the Lions’ roster.
“We have a very young talented group with lots of energy and I know we will see improvement this year,” Dicheck said. “I don’t know how good we are yet, but we are within reach of nationals and I think this is the start of a number of successful years in a row.”
– Lauren Kohout, Staff Writer
Track and Field
You may not be able to tell by the snow on the ground, but spring is on its way and so is the outdoor track season. The athletes of the College’s men’s and women’s spring track team are working hard, and one can almost envision the stands full of people in shorts and T-shirts who cheer for a team that is always able to impress.
With the start of this new season will come some changes, the first being a new head coach. Eric Mobley was chosen to fill the shoes of Steve Dolan and serve as the new head coach of the men’s and women’s track and field programs. Mobley has some large shoes to fill, as Dolan was last year’s men’s and women’s Coach of the Year for the Atlantic Region.
“Coach Mobley is very well liked by this team,” junior distance runner Matt Randall said. “At first, we were all a little nervous getting a new coach. Steve Dolan made this team to what it is today and he was a great coach, beloved by everyone. Losing him hit hard at first, but right now Coach Mobley is doing a heck of a job.”
Mobley inherits a program that has dominated the NJAC track scene, having won the last seven men’s and women’s indoor championships and 21 out of a possible 22 NJAC women’s outdoor titles.
The men’s program has won the last seven outdoor NJAC championships. The women’s team finished in fifth place at the 2004 NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships, while the men picked up 24th place after producing eight All-Americans and breaking 12 school records. The women’s team produced two NCAA Division III National Champions (4×100 and 4×400 relays), had two others finish as the national runners-up (5,000-meter run and 400-meter dash) and produced 12 All-Americans.
“The team is looking pretty strong this year,” senior distance runner Brian Donovan said.
The women have lost senior three-time All-American Beth Vesey but have some great returning runners, including freshman Khristelle Manuyag and juniors Brittny Boyd, Kate Powell and Tiffany Clark, who ended last season with a first place finish at the NCAA Track Champoinships in the 4×100 relay. Clark is now a seven time All-American at the College and Boyd a 10-time All-American in just two seasons.
“I would say on the women’s side we need to get some more throwers out there or back from injury,” sophomore Lindsay Force said. “There are a lot of distance runners I know that are on the road back to recovery also who will be a huge impact.”
The men have also lost some key athletes, including three-time All-American decathlete Chad Williams. Williams posted a school record score of 6,625 points, besting his own mark of 6,516 points. They also have lost javelin thrower Joe Gargione and hurdler Kevin Semanick.
The team, however, still looks strong, and has great athletes ready to step up and fill the shoes of those who have been lost. Junior three-time All-American Jeff Zodda and junior All-American Jeff Schwerdtman, who currently holds the College record for the discus throw (52.14 meters), are two such athletes.
– Kristina Cossaboon, Staff Writer