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PSU Softball to open season on annual Florida trip

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University softball team will head to Florida this weekend to kick off the 2010 season, playing 10 games in six days against 10 different teams during the team’s annual season-opening trip to Florida.

            After traveling to Fort Myers, Fla., the past several years, Plymouth State will journey this season to Clermont, Fla., just outside Orlando.  PSU will meet Allegheny College (Pa.) and Trinity College (Conn.) in the first two games on Sunday, Mar. 21, and continue with two games a day the rest of the week, except for an off day on Wednesday.

            PSU has 26 more games on tap back in New England, including 14 Little East Conference affairs.  The LEC opener is a doubleheader on Saturday, Apr. 3, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and the first home games at D&M Park are slated for Thursday, April 15, vs. Fitchburg State College.

            The regular season wraps up on May 1st, with the top six teams advancing to the annual LEC Tournament the first week in May.  The Little East Tournament champion will be crowned on May 8, and will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament.

2010 PSU Softball Outlook

            The Panthers are looking to continue their recent success this year, coming off a pair of 20-win seasons and two Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament berths. There are nine veterans back from last season, including seven regulars.  PSU will also be looking to move up in the Little East Conference standings this spring after a pair of fifth-place finishes.

Head Coach Bruce Addison             “I think our line-up is pretty solid,” said seventh-year head coach Bruce Addison (right).  “We have a lot of returners back and a lot of experience. We’ve got some speed and some power and hope our offense can carry us through the season.”

            Coach Addison says the defense should be solid, with mostly veterans in the field.  PSU will have to overcome the graduation loss of its top two pitchers from last year, but Coach Addison is confident in this year’s staff.

            Most of last year’s top sluggers are back this season.  Junior Andrea Pydynkowski (Danvers, Mass.), a former All-LEC Second Team pick, led the team in batting average (.350) and home runs (7) last spring and will hold down the right field position.  Junior Kortney Nedeau (Kennebunk, Maine) and sophomore Allie Luisi (North Kingstown, R.I.) will be in the middle of the Panther line-up, and they will rotate back and forth between catcher and third base.  Nedeau is a career .333 hitter with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 24 RBI in her first two seasons; Luisi batted .319 with eight doubles in a solid rookie campaign last year.

            “We’re counting on big seasons from those veterans,” said Addison.  “They’re proven they can play at this level, and we’re looking for big things from them.”

            Senior four-year veterans Sammi Romano (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn Regional), Kay LaBrie (Somersworth, N.H.) and Rachel Pothier (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) are also key returning players.  Romano is a steady shortstop, while LaBrie will move from the infield to center field this spring and will likely also bat lead-off.  Pothier will see action at first base and designated player if she can stay healthy.

            Other returning veterans include sophomore infielders Heather Blase (Milford, N.H.) and Amy Green (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane Regional). Blase is back as one of the top defensive second basemen in the league, according to Addison, and Green will move from shortstop to first base this spring.  Freshman Hilary Lemelin (Milan, N.H./Berlin) will serve as a back-up at both second and short, and senior Alyssa Marini (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn Regional) is available as a reserve catcher.

            Freshman Jenn Bove (Medford, Mass.) has the inside track on the starting job in left field, but sophomore newcomers Kristen Vibberts (West Hartford, Conn./Hall) and Amanda Salois (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) or freshman Diana Bean (Danvers, Mass.) could also see playing time in left.

            Sophomore Ali Keith (Northfield, N.H./Winnisquam) will lead the pitching staff, according to Addison, and will get the majority of the starts.  Freshman Dom Heres (Salem, N.H./Salem) will also fit into the rotation, and Bean will get some innings as well.

            “Ali (Keith) has worked extremely hard, knowing she’s going to get the chance to pitch this season, and she’s looked good,” said Addison.  “I have a lot of confidence in her.  She just needs to throw quality strikes to put the ball in play and let us defend the ball.”

            Addison added the team chemistry has been outstanding this year.

            “We have challenged the kids to be their best all year, from the first pitch every day to the last swing,” said Addison.  “If everyone is at their best, I think it will be a great season.  This year’s group is probably the closest-knit team we’ve had since I’ve been here.  I enjoy watching them play and watching them try to be their best.”

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