Ready to roll

CSM soft­ball look­ing to build on last year’s suc­cess

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

On the heels of last year’s solid cam­paign in which they went 24-20 and reached the cham- pi­o­nship round of the Re­gion XX Tour­na­ment, the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land soft­ball team al- ready has two wins un­der its belt and is seek­ing con- sider­ably more dur­ing a spring sea­son that of­fers am­ple prom­ise.

CSM (3-1 over­all) opened the sea­son with a pair of lop­sided vic­to­ries over Rap­pa­han­nock (Va.), 16-1 and 17-2, then split ver­sus Richard Bland (Va.) on Wed­nes­day, win- ning 11-3 in six in­nings and los­ing 14-0 in five in­nings. The Hawks will kick off the Mary­land Ju­nior Col- lege Ath­letic Con­fer­ence por­tion of their sched­ule this Satur­day when they host CCBC-Dun­dalk in a dou­ble­header.

CSM has only four re­turn­ing starters from last year’s team and the Hawks saw 2016 pitch­ing ace Lori Sturgill, a Mc- Donough High School grad­u­ate, trans­fer to Shep­herd Univer­sity in West Vir­ginia.

“We don’t have a lot of play­ers back from last year’s team, but we have four sopho­more starters back who come to prac­tice ever y day ready to do what­ever we ask them to do,” said CSM fourth-year head coach Jim Cleary, re­fer­ring to short­stop Corinne Fer­nald, pitcher Am­ber Whe­lan, first base­man Al­li­son McLane and out­fielder Madi­son Boel- ke. “Any­time you have a group of girls back who are will­ing to play any- where in the field and bat any­where in the or­der, it makes things that much eas­ier as a coach.”

Fer­nald, a Chop­ti­con High School grad­u­ate from Me­chan­icsville who is one of the team’s cap­tains for a sec­ond straight sea­son, will spend most of her af­ter­noons at short­stop although she has al­ready filled in be­hind the plate.

Fer­nald, who plans to trans­fer to ei­ther Alder- son Broad­dus Col­lege (W.Va.) or Univer­sity of Mary­land Univer­sity Col­lege this fall, ad­mits the re­turn­ing play­ers have al­ready formed a co­he­sive bond with the in­com­ing fresh­men, in­clud­ing Sa­man­tha Sum- mers, a Chop­ti­con High School grad­u­ate from Me­chan­icsville.

“Last year was a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me and the other re­turn- ing play­ers,” Fer­nald said. “It taught us what it takes to be suc­cess­ful at the col­lege level. You have to come to prac­tice ready ev- ery day and then be re­ally fo­cused on game days. It’s a lot — bal­anc­ing the sched­ule be­tween prac- tices, school, games and work­ing part-time. But we’re look­ing for­ward to the sea­son.”

McLane, a Chop­ti­con High School grad­u­ate from Me­chan­icsville, will once again ac­cept the du­ties at first base and she will likely bat third in the or­der, a role she of­ten held last spring. Like Fer- nald, McLane is plan­ning to trans­fer to Alder­son Broad­dus this fall, but she ad­mits the Hawks spring sea­son has top pri­or­ity right now.

“We re­ally have a good group of girls on the team this sea­son,” said Mc- Lane, who at­tended Mon­day’s me­dia ses­sion wear- ing a Hawks T-shirt with the phrase “We Be­fore Me” on the back. “It’s all about com­ing to prac­tice ev­ery day and do­ing your job. Ev­ery­one knows what they have to do to help us suc­ceed. We grad­u­ated some re­ally good play­ers, but we have a lot of new fresh­men here who have fit right in.”

While Sturgill left for Shep­herd, CSM gar­nered an ideal re­place­ment when Chloe Day, a Great Mills High School grad­u­ate from Lex­ing­ton Park, trans­ferred to the school af­ter spend­ing her fresh­man cam­paign at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege where she went 11-2 with a 1.12 ERA and 81 strike­outs in 82 in­nings in the cir­cle.

In the sea­son opener at Rap­pa­han­nock, Day made her pres­ence known im­me­di­ately when she al­lowed one un­earned run on one hit and fanned five

in five in­nings of work as the Hawks cruised to a 16-1 vic­tory. Whe­lan, a Thomas Stone High School grad­u­ate from Wal­dorf, the Hawks’ No. 2 pitcher, gar­nered the win in Game 2 when she al­lowed two un­earned runs on five hits in three in­nings.

CSM scored five runs in the first, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and eight runs in the sixth in the opener. Fer­nald led the Hawks at­tack with four hits, while Sum­mers, Mc- Lane, Andrea Kline (a La Plata High School grad­u­ate from Hugh­esville) and Day each had three hits. Sum­mers, Caitlin Peters and McLane each had three hits in the night­cap and McLane and Kline col­lected six runs bat­ted in dur­ing the twin­bill.

While CSM parted with Sturgill and grad­u­ated Cruz, Kait­lyn Cave and Alexis Clark, Cleary was able to re­cruit in­com- ing fresh­men from all three South­ern Mary- land coun­ties and Prince Ge­orge’s County. Peters (a Calvert High School grad­u­ate from Prince Fred­er­ick), IF/OF Sa- vanna Pavkov (a Pis­cat- away Academy grad­u­ate from Clin­ton), out­fielder Emily Gib­son (a Calvert High School grad­u­ate from Lusby), Kline and out­fielder Me­gan Cun­ning­ham (a McDonough High School grad­u­ate from La Plata) all give the Hawks an in­fu­sion of youth and tal­ent.

“We had a lot of suc­cess last year and we lost some key play­ers, but we have an ex­cel­lent group back this sea­son and I hon­estly think this is the best team that I have had in my four years here are CSM,” Cleary said.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land sopho­more soft­ball play­ers Cor­rine Fer­nald, left, and Al­li­son McLane, right, and head coach Jim Cleary, stand­ing, are op­ti­mistic about the up­com­ing spring sea­son for the Hawks.

PHOTO COURTESY OF COL­LEGE OF SOUTH­ERN MARY­LAND

The Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land soft­ball team opened the sea­son with a pair of lop­sided vic­to­ries over Rap­pa­han­nock (Va.) and is ready to roll with the 2017 spring sea­son.

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