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PSU Softball to open season with annual Florida trip

2011 Panthers have good blend of veterans and rookies

              PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University softball team will head to Florida next weekend (Mar. 18) to open the 2011 campaign, playing 11 games in seven days against 11 different teams during the team's annual season-opening trip to the Sunshine State.

            Plymouth State returns this season to the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla., just outside Orlando.  PSU will meet Tufts in the first game on Saturday, Mar. 19, followed by two-games-a-day for the next three days.  After an off-day on Wednesday, the Panthers wrap up the trip with two more doubleheaders on Thursday and Friday.

PSU Softball Season Preview 2011
  Head Coach Bruce Addison

              PSU has 28 more games on tap back in New England, including 14 Little East Conference affairs.  The LEC opener is a doubleheader on Saturday, Apr. 2, at Rhode Island College, and the first of 14 home games at D&M Park are slated for Thursday, April 7, vs. Lyndon State College.

            The regular season wraps up by the end of April, 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 7, and will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament.

2011 PSU Softball Outlook

              Eghth-year head coach Bruce Addison welcomes back eight veterans from last year's team, and they will be joined by a group of 10 newcomers, nine freshmen and a transfer.  Coach Addison says it's a good blend of talent.

            "Everyone feels good about our team," says Addison.  "We have some solid returners coming back and some new kids who bring some new blood and a whole new attitude."

            Addison is confident with the bats in the Panther line-up, and says the defense and pitching should be improved, including a pair of rookie hurlers.

            "We have two freshman pitchers who will see the bulk of the time in the circle," says Addison, "and a sophomore who could also be in the mix.  We think pitching and defense can be strengths for us, and I don't think we'll beat ourselves like we did a number of times last year."

            The two freshmen pitchers are Amber White (Middleboro, Mass.) and Nora Galvin (Windham, N.H./Salem), according to Addison, while sophomore Diana Bean (Danvers, Mass.), who won five games as a rookie last spring, can also help out.

            The Panthers have two standout veterans who will occupy the 3-4 spots in the batting order in junior Allie Luisi (North Kingstown, R.I.) and senior Kortney Nedeau (Kennebunk, Maine).  Luisi earned All-Little East Conference honors last season when she led the team with a .398 batting average, while Nedeau, the team's only senior, is a four-year starter who is a career .341 hitter with 16 home runs and 69 RBI.  Luisi holds down center field while Nedeau is a solid defensive third-baseman.

            "They're both very good hitters and will be big for our offense," says Addison.  "Kortney is one of the top power hitters in the conference, and Allie is one of the top all-around players.  They give us a nice tandem in the middle of the line-up."

            PSU has two other veterans back in the infield with juniors Heather Blase (Milford, N.H.) and Amy Green (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane Regional). Blase is one of the top defensive second basemen in the league, according to Addison, and Green plays a solid shortstop.  Freshmen Bekah Jackson (Nashua, N.H./North) and Denise Freitas (Sanford, Maine) have been impressive and are pushing for playing time in the Panther infield, and classmate Sam Hebert (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) has made the switch from catcher and looks like she's earned the starting job at first base.

            Addison will rely on three freshmen to handle the catching duties; Kaitlyn Belair (Nashua, N.H./South), Taylor Mancini (Gansevoort, N.Y./South Glens Falls) and Megan Fifield (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) have all been working hard to prove themselves and each will get some playing time.

            The Panther outfield should feature Luisi in center, with sophomore Jenn Bove (Medford, Mass.) returning in left field and sophomore transfer Megan Sylvestre (Waterford, Conn.) and freshman Jackie Digman (Burlington, Mass.) contending for the starting spot in right. Junior Kristen Vibberts (West Hartford, Conn./Hall) can play all three outfield positions, and sophomore utility player Hilary Lemelin (Milan, N.H./Berlin) can step in at several positions in both the infield and outfield.

            "I think we can be very competitive in the Little East this year," says Addison.  "We can compete with any team on our schedule.  We have lots of potential. If our freshmen come through like we think they can,, we should be very, very competitive." 

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