The Harvard softball team has an entirely new look for the 1982 season.
In only its second year as a varsity squad, the Crimson nine are without the coach, two outfielders, the shortstop, and, most alarmingly, the entire pitching staff that carried them to an impressive 14-5 record in their inaugural seaon.
The athletic department found John Wentzell, a former assistant baseball coach at Clark and Springfield Colleges, to replace Kit Morris and take charge of this year's team.
And in the past two months, Wentzell and Nancy Hogan, the J.V. women's basketball coach, have literally created a new mound staff.
Wentzell currently has a corps of outfielders set to replace the disbanded trio of Nancy Boutillier, Karen Pelletier, and Barb Mahon, which worked 121 of the 124 innings the squad played last spring.
Boutillier's baffling changeup produced eight wins and a 3.20 ERA in 70 innings, and her decision to take a leave of absence has crippled the Crimson staff. But Wentzell expects freshman Inga Larson, reserve outfielder and Co-Captain Diane Boteler and centerfielder Ellen Jakovic to fill the gap.
"We have a lot of proving to do without Nancy Boutillier," Wentzell said yesterday afternoon. "I really hope that Inga can be another Boutillier for us. Nancy Hogan has really done a good job of instructing all of them, and right now they look pretty sharp."
Larson has drawn the starting assignment in today's season opener at B.U., and if she can hold the Terrier to fewer than ten runs, the Crimson's potent lineup should give her adequate support.
The absence of three of last year's top hitters may curtail the squad's offensive activity somewhat. Senior Co-Captains Lisa Bernstein (shortstop) and Betty Ippolito (right field) batted 476 and 439 respectively, while leftfielder Elaine Hopuch, who like Boutillier opted to take a year off, finished second in run production last season with a 448 average, three home runs and 22 RBIs
But even without Ippolito, Holpuch, and Bernstein, the Crimson is very capable of terrorizing opposing pitches. The nine's cumulative batting average in 1981 was a lusty .436, and they outscored their opponents, 254-111, in large part because of a 31-6 humiliation of the Terriers.
Although Wentzell's team may not post scores worthy of the gridiron, his starting lineup is still one of the best in the area. Third baseman Pat Horne brings otherwordly stats--a .627 batting average, five home runs, 31 runs scored and 31 RBIs--to the cleanup spot, and players like catcher Gill Raney and centerfielder Jakoyic should take advantage of the recent exodus.
Despite a .444 averge, the awesome offensive feats of the departed players always obscured Raney's consistently excellent play and timely hitting. And because the Crimson usually annihilated its competition, early substitutions limited the junior speedster Jakovic, who batted .400, to fewer than two to the plate per game.
To adjust to some of the losses, Wentzell is sending several players to unfamiliar positions. Last year's second baseman Alissa Friedman is now the leftfielder: Co-Captain Marlene Schools moved from first base to fill the spot Bernstein vacated at short, and Landya Boyer, formerly a reserve shortstop, will start at first this afternoon.
At second base, Ellen Sakharov is the only freshman other than Larson to claim a starting position, while Boteler, who had only 121 at-bats last season, has earned a spot in right field.