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March 14, 2012

Plymouth State Softball set to open 2012 season

Panthers head to Florida for Spring Break games

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University softball team will head to Florida this weekend to open the 2012 campaign, playing 10 games in six days against 10 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 the University of Wisconsin Superior and State University of New York College at New Paltz in the first two games on Sunday, Mar. 18, followed by two games a day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

  
  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, Mar. 31, at two-time defending champion Eastern Connecticut State University, and the first of 12 home games at D&M Park are slated for Tuesday, April 10, vs. Castleton 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 5, and will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament. 

2012 PSU Softball Outlook

            Ninth-year head coach Bruce Addison welcomes back nine veterans to this year's squad, who are joined by five newcomers.  Addison says this year's team is smaller than usual but he's pleased with the roster.

            "I think we have a good combination of pitching and defense," says the coach.  "On offense, I really like our combination of speed and power.  We have a lot of athletics kids, and we have more speed than any other year that I've been here."

            The Panthers are coming off a 17-22 season in 2011, and Addison says this year's team should be improved over last year.

            "We have good leadership from our seniors," says Addison, "and we have several returning starters.  We also have back a couple of solid players who missed all of last season with injuries so our line-up is coming together."

            The two senior captains who will lead the Panthers are outfielders Allie Luisi and Kristen Vibberts. Luisi, a four-year starter and former All-LEC outfielder who has batted over .300 every year, will patrol center field while Vibberts, who missed most of last season with injuries, can fill in at all three outfield positions.

            "They're our leaders," says Addison.  "I admire their character and poise, and they are highly respected by their teammates."

            PSU has several options to flank Luisi in the outfield, with junior Jenn Bove and freshman Kristina Bove to see playing time in left field, and sophomore Shannon Murphy and freshman Cynthia Barata battling for the job in right field.

            The Panthers have several returning sophomores filling the infield positions. Sam Hebert is the returning starter at first base after leading the team last spring with a .333 batting average; Jackie Digman moves from the outfield to third base after batting .289 in her rookie season; Taylor Mancini will likely take over as full-time catcher after batting .297 in 27 starts last spring; and Bekah Jackson will get a chance to show her skills at shortstop after missing most of last season with injuries.

            Addison says Barata and junior newcomer Calli DeGrace will contend to the second base position.  Freshman Brittany Orcutt can fill in as a reserve infielder.

            The Panthers have four pitchers on the roster, led by sophomore Nora Galvin, who looks to be the No. 1 starter.  She won five games last season with two shutouts and struck out 82 batters in 93 innings.  Orcutt will also get some starts, according to Addison, and Barata and junior Ali Keith are also available.

            "I think we can be very competitive in the Little East this year," says Addison.  "It gets tougher and tougher every year; the LEC is so competitive.  But if we execute and do our job, we'll surprise some people.  I think we can beat anyone on any given day if we play our best." 

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