PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State College softball team had some outstanding individual performances in 1998, but the Panthers were able to only put together a 14-21-1 overall record under sixth-year coach Robin Payne, and a 6-8 mark in the Little East Conference.
Four different players set school records this season, three hitters and one pitcher. Two players earned post-season honors, and with only one senior graduating, the Panthers should return a solid nucleus for next season.
The Panthers had more depth this season than they've had in recent years, but the depth included a large contingent of freshmen and sophomores. That inexperience led to inconsistency, as PSC had trouble putting together long winning streaks.
"The highlights of the season were the sweeps over UMass Boston and Rhode Island College," said Payne, " and the win over Keene State. We had lost our first four Little East games, and we went down to Boston and swept UMass Boston. Then we came home the next weekend and swept Rhode Island College, winning 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh in the first game and coming from behind twice to win the second game. The first game we played against Keene State this season was one of our best all year, and we won 5-0."
The one who kept the young players together and was a true team leader was 2B Andrea Scavuzzo (East Walpole, MA), the team's lone senior and a two-year captain. A four-year starter and the new school record-holder for career games played (134), Scavuzzo batted .309 with 21 runs scored, third best on the team.
"It was a thrill to see Andrea get voted the Panther Award for the second straight year," said Payne. "I don't think anyone has ever won that prestigious award two years in a row. Her leadership was huge. I handed her the keys last fall and told her this was her team. While I was coaching tennis, Andrea established the guidelines for the team. She was also the only returning infielder at the same position, and she had to calm down and stabilize the inexperienced infield."
The Panthers also had three outstanding offensive weapons in juniors Jen Arrajj (Lawrence, MA) and Kerry Bickford (Belmont, NH) and sophomore Sara Wormwood (Rutland, VT). Arrajj, who is a terrific defensive catcher, earned All-Conference honors after batting .358 and leading the team in runs scored (35), doubles (11), triples (5) and total bases (60). Arrajj already owns the school record for career doubles (32), and could break a host of other standards during her senior year. Bickford, who transferred to PSC this season from Dean College, broke the Panthers' single-season RBI mark (32) this spring while batting .320 with three doubles and three triples. She played sound infield defense, splitting time at the two corner positions, and will be one of the co-captains next season. Wormwood, who played both shortstop and first base, earned her second straight All-Conference selection after batting .381 with a team-high 43 hits, six doubles and two home runs.
"Jen Arrajj had the kind of year I was hoping she would have," said Payne. "She played through a lot of injuries, but they started to take a toll on her. She became a good leader, which I thought she could, both on and off the field. Kerry Bickford really blended in well on the team. She earned a lot of respect from the other players after just one year, as evidenced by her selection as captain. And Sara Wormwood had another good year with the bat. When she was on, she was really on, and the team rose up to her level."
Payne was able to use a three-woman rotation in the pitching department. Junior Amanda Murphy (Collinsville, CT) was again the ace of the staff, leading the team in just about every category, particularly wins (8) and earned run average (3.20). A three-year veteran, she will also be a co-captain next spring. Sophomore Heather Gadourey (Billerica, MA) was usually PSC's second pitcher of the day, and she led the team in strikeouts (36) en route to a 4-8 record. Classmate Jen Moulton (Bow, NH) pitched in only seven games due to injury, but tossed a one-hit shutout over Notre Dame College.
"Mandy Murphy had a better record this season," said Payne, "and she has lowered her ERA every year. Last year we didn't give her the run support, but we would come back and win the second game (of a doubleheader). This year we scored a lot more for her, and she responded."
Two others who saw lots of playing time in the Panther infield were sophomore Carrie Turgeon (Derry, NH) and freshman Kelly Anderson (Exeter, NH). Turgeon, one of only two players to start every game this season, handled third base the first half of the season before moving to right field, and Anderson started the season in the outfield before taking over the starting shortstop position. Anderson handled to pressure of starting at shortstop as a freshman, and showed some pop at the plate, batting a respectable .295.
The Panthers played all year without junior co-captain Paula Richard (Gardner, MA), who started at first base in 1997 but missed the entire season with a rotator cuff injury.
"Paula had the toughest job on the team," said Payne, "being a captain and being unable to perform. But she was there every day, and she had a voice on the team. She was still actively involved, and she showed a tremendous amount of courage and dedication to this team, continuing her leadership as if she was playing."
Other regulars in the Panther line-up included sophomore Jennell Carter (Allenstown, NH) and freshman Abby Russell (Newfane, VT). Carter batted a team-high .429 in 70 at bats, including a pair of home runs. Russell, who played mostly outfield but also pitched in two games, started all but one game and batted .259. Junior outfielder Michelle Sullivan (Rochester, NH) overcame injuries and started 21 games.
Offensive reserves, a luxury Payne hasn't had in recent years, included freshmen Emily Caroll (Plymouth, MA), Sarah Daye (Littleton, NH), Sarah Jarry (Hudson, NH), Steph Ruel (Biddeford, ME), Jackie Wentworth (Stratham, NH), and sophomore Raleigh Lapierre (Haverhill, MA).
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