<< Front page Sports March 19, 2004

Softball looks to shine in 2004

Winding up: Softball player Kate Oberg prepares to throw the ball at practice on Thursday afternoon.

For the first year in its history, the Oberlin softball team will enter the 2004 season without a player who remembers the team’s premier season in spring 2000. Entering its fifth season, softball is still a program in development, but it has made great strides since its fledgling days.

This will be the team’s second year under the direction of head coach Tina Wood, who led the team to a 5-18 mark last season.

“With a year under their belts with me, the players know what’s expected now,” Wood said. “I’m very happy with the group we ended up with. They’re a group of girls that will do whatever it takes.”

The team has added four first-years — Sarah Maguire, Carrie Noel-Nosbaum, Mary Notari and Alexandra Plotsky — rounding out a roster of 12 players, which marks an increase in participation but still falls short of the 14 or 15 that Wood would like to see in a roster.

While the team has added new blood, there have been subtractions as well, with the losses of Laura Wallerstein, OC ’03, and fifth-year Maria Balducci.

But while the Yeowomen will miss Balducci’s .318 average (second on the team last year) and steady fielding at shortstop, they will retain her leadership, as she remains involved with the team as assistant coach.

As the last remaining tie to the original Yeowoman softball team, Balducci actually has a longer tenure than Wood.

“I’m kind of forced to be a coach,” Balducci said, because as a fifth-year, she has already used up her four years of eligibility. “It’s kind of weird, having played with some of the girls. I guess I’m in a pretty interesting position. They respect me as a player so they respect me as a coach.”

Sophomore Kate Oberg, who last year became the second full-time pitcher for the Oberlin program, will once again shoulder the majority of the pitching duties. “It’s a lot of pressure,” she said of being the primary hurler, “and it’s going to continue to be so.”

Oberg will have a little bit of help, though, from Maguire, who is being converted to a pitcher. Wood sees her starting in a relief role before taking on a starting role on doubleheader days.

“I’m really glad Sarah’s here this year,” Oberg said. “She’s got a lot of natural athletic ability.”

On the field, Wood said, “we’re looking to our captains and our seniors to lead the team. The team definitely looks up to them.”

Senior outfielder Kari Barlan, the team’s leading hitter last season with a .354 average and junior catcher Julia Daher will co-captain the team.

Daher’s season was limited by injury last year, but in 17 games she hit .419 and slugged over .600. Third baseman Sarah Benjamin is the team’s other returning seniors.

The other returning sophomores are second baseman Katie Dover-Taylor, outfielder Miriam Elfstrom and first baseman Genevieve Lehr. Plotsky will replace Balducci as the team’s shortstop.

The team has set its sights high this year. Wood said that the Yeowomen aim to reach the NCAC tournament, meaning that they will have to beat out at least four conference rivals to finish in the top four.

At the mercy of the whims of March weather, the team’s first two games — slated for Saturday and Monday — have already been cancelled.

The team will now look to kick off the season next Wednesday at Lorain County Community College before heading to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for the Snowbird Softball Tournament during Spring Break.


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