FROSTBURG, MD -
The 2003 season was one of change for the Frostburg State softball program. A new head coach, new uniforms, several new faces and a new attitude brought about a 13-12 record and a fourth-place finish in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, leaving the Bobcats seeking more success in 2004.
"I was very pleased with our performance last year," said FSU head coach Chris Starke, whose squad opens this weekend in the Methodist College Early Bird Tournament in Fayetteville, N.C. "We return six starters, and we’ve added several new players who will make an immediate impact."
The majority of experience lies in the infield, where three starters are back.
Sophomore Trish Brown (Manchester, Md./North Carroll) returns at first base after seeing most of her time there last year. Brown earned second-team All-AMCC honors after hitting .373 with 23 runs scored and 19 runs batted in.
She finished second on the team in hits (31), home runs (2), slugging percentage (.554) and runs scored (23).
Brown enjoyed her best game of the year in an 11-3 win over eventual AMCC Tournament champion Pitt-Bradford when she went 2-for-3 with a three-run home run, three runs scored and a career-high five RBI. She was also 4-for-5 with two runs scored and a RBI in a key 7-1 win over Penn State Behrend.
"Trish is an excellent athlete who can play just about anywhere on the field," said Starke. "She did well at shortstop the first part of the year, but she filled a bigger need at first base later on and did a great job there as well. She’s a dangerous hitter with All-America potential."
Senior Stephanie Zych (Slingerlands, N.Y./Guilderland) is likely to start at second base after splitting time at shortstop and second in 2003.
Zych earned second-team All-AMCC honors after hitting a career-high .371 and leading the Bobcats with 27 runs scored (ranking 23rd in the nation with 1.23 runs per game) and a .450 on-base percentage. She also ranked second on the team with nine walks, third with a .443 slugging percentage and fourth with 14 RBI.
Zych is on pace to finish her career as FSU’s all-time leader in games played, at-bats, runs scored, hits and walks.
Zych completed a stellar career as a goalkeeper with the Bobcat soccer team this past fall, leading FSU to the AMCC title and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She finished her soccer career as FSU’s all-time leader with 48 wins, 443 saves and 19 shutouts.
"Stephanie enjoyed tremendous individual and team success on the soccer field, and I’m looking for her to carry that over into her final season of softball," Starke said. "She battled a hand injury and had to adjust to changing her spot in the batting order last year, and she still hit a career-high .371. Her average has gone up each season, which is a testament to her hard work and competitive nature. I’m expecting her to have a great senior season."
Sophomore Sarah Savoye (Davidsonville, Md./South River) will start at third base after splitting time between shortstop and the hot corner a year ago. She possesses excellent hands and one of the most accurate arms on the team.
Savoye started 22 games last season and hit .281 while ranking second on the team with seven doubles. She added 11 RBI and 14 runs scored. She opened the season with a six-game hitting streak and was hitting .400 before cooling off down the stretch.
"Sarah was one of our most consistent defensive players last season, and she solidifies the left side of the infield," said Starke. "She had great success at the plate the first half of the year, and we’ll need her to give us a potent bat in the bottom half of our lineup this season."
Freshman Amanda Griswold (Rockville, Md./Magruder) is the likely starter at shortstop. An excellent all-around athlete, Griswold was the second-leading scorer (18 points on six goals and six assists) on the FSU field hockey team this past fall.
"Amanda has excellent quickness, a nice arm and good bat control," said Starke. "She’s the final piece of the infield puzzle, and she should allow our other infielders to get settled at their positions."
The Bobcats will have added depth in the infield with sophomore Krystal Dixon (Westminster, Md./Westminster) and junior Amanda Boswell (Marbury, Md./Lackey) battling for time.
Dixon has a strong bat and excellent arm, and she is capable of playing nearly every position in the infield.
"Krystal will give us a lot of options both offensively and defensively," said Starke. "She has one of the strongest arms on the team and will give us some added pop offensively."
Boswell joins the program after playing two years at the College of Southern Maryland, one of the top junior college programs in the region. She is also a member of the Bobcat field hockey team and had three goals and two assists this past fall.
"Amanda comes from a great program at CSM and has been part of several highly successful squads," Starke said. "She brings excellent speed and overall athleticism to our team."
Sophomore Megan Burner (Oakland, Md./Southern Garrett) will see most of the action behind the plate after sharing time there last season. Burner started 16 games last year and hit .295 with two doubles, one home run and seven RBI. She also scored 12 runs.
Burner, who was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete, was voted the team’s Most Improved Player for her efforts over the course of the year.
"Megan showed great improvement nearly each and every day and she has continued to develop this year," Starke said. "She is without a doubt one of our hardest working players, and she’ll play an important role for us again this year both behind the plate and in the outfield."
Senior Marsha Moats (Hagerstown, Md./South Hagerstown) and sophomore Jessica Smith (La Vale, Md./Allegany) return to patrol the outfield, while senior Lindsey Secrest (Hagerstown, Md./Williamsport) and freshman Lori Potts (Purcellville, Va./Loudoun Valley) will provide additional speed and athleticism.
Moats saw the majority of her time last season as the team’s designated player and earned second-team All-AMCC honors after hitting .333 with four doubles and 14 RBI. She scored 18 runs and was 6-for-7 in stolen base attempts.
"Marsha had an excellent year for us and gave us a spark at the top of the lineup," said Starke. "She’s one of our fastest runners and will be looked upon even more this season."
Smith, who is also a guard on the FSU basketball team, appeared in 15 games in 2003 and hit .250 with six RBI and three runs scored. She worked her way into the starting lineup the latter half of the season and played all three outfield spots.
"Jess simply makes plays when we need them and brings a lot of energy and excitement to the team," Starke said. "Her offensive game has improved since the fall, and I think she’ll have a strong year."
Secrest enters her first year with the program after playing at Hagerstown Junior College in 1999 & 2000. She also served as the team’s assistant coach in 2001.
"Lindsey brings a great deal of experience and maturity to our program," said Starke. "She’s an outstanding athlete with excellent speed, and she’ll give us some options in the outfield while also seeing time as a catcher."
Potts is expected to make an immediate impact in the outfield as well as in the pitching circle. As a senior at Loudoun Valley High School, she won the Group AA state championship and helped the Vikings to the No. 1 ranking in the final Washington Post poll.
Potts is also a member of the FSU volleyball team that won the AMCC title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament this past fall.
"Lori has enjoyed a great deal of success in both volleyball and softball, and she brings a winning attitude to our program," said Starke. "She’s got excellent speed and will be a key component in our lineup."
Potts will team with senior Andria Cook (Cresaptown, Md./Allegany) to give FSU a solid pitching tandem. Cook returns to the area after playing at Division II Columbia Union last year. She previously pitched for Hagerstown Junior College for two seasons.
"Andria has been very impressive throughout the fall and preseason and will be a workhorse for us this year," said Starke. "Lori has made a quick transition to the college distance and has got excellent velocity and movement on her pitches. Both she and Andria will be an integral part of our success this year."
While the Bobcats have increased their overall level of talent, they have also raised the difficulty of their schedule.
After opening the season in the challenging Methodist Early Bird Tournament, facing regional power Lynchburg, preseason No. 12 Methodist and St. Joseph’s (N.Y.) on the first day, and then travels to the challenging Ferrum Tournament the following weekend. The Bobcats then head to Myrtle Beach for eight games over spring break.
Non-conference doubleheaders against Bridgewater and McDaniel will also test the Bobcats as they prepare to challenge for the AMCC championship.
"This is probably the toughest non-conference schedule FSU softball has faced in its eight-year history," said Starke. "Methodist was 38-10 and advanced to the NCAA South Region final last year, and Lynchburg, Bridgewater and McDaniel are always among the best teams in the region."
With the top three squads in the AMCC suffering key losses to graduation, the Bobcats look to be playing at their best come the conference championships.
FSU earned the fourth and final berth in last year’s tournament but were eliminated on the first day, dropping two games by a combined 16-4 score. That disappointing performance has left a bitter taste, and the Bobcats look to turn the tables this year.
"We made a great deal of progress over the course of last year, including winning a school-record seven in a row, but we just fell apart in the tournament," said Starke. "We’ve got an outstanding group this year, complete with talent, dedication and a true love for the game and each other. We expect to challenge for the conference championship."
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303