If there’s a weakness on this year’s softball team, it’s hidden pretty deep. Make that really deep. With 22 skilled players on the roster, this year’s Crimson fields one of the most talented teams in recent memory. But it didn’t always look so good.
The softball squad had a big hole to fill with the graduation of first baseman Tiffany Whitton, a 2003 ECAC honorable mention, the 2002 Ivy League Player of the Year, and Harvard’s all-time career and single season home run leader.
Add that loss to the last year’s disappointing 15-26 record (7-7 Ivy) and the team needed to rebound.
After recruiting a freshman class of reliable talent in every aspect of the game, snagging a star transfer player, and harnessing old talent, the 2004 team is full of spunk, skill, and commitment. It’s on a campaign to rebuild the program, and in terms of expectations, the sky is the limit. It’s already off to a 4-5 start against tough non-Ivy League teams.
“This is probably one of the most focused teams I’ve ever had,” head coach Jenny Allard says. “When you have a year that you’re frustrated with and just so inconsistent, you come back the next year really hungry.”
This year, there is hunger at every position, as every starter is backed up by a legitimate challenger.
THE PITCHING STAFF
The force of the infield begins with co-captain and pitcher Kara Brotemarkle, who, after three seasons, already ranks third on Harvard’s all-time strikeout list with 272 and threw her first no-hitter last season against Columbia. Her supporting cast on the mound includes junior Lauren Bettinelli, a reliable utility player at almost any infield position. She was initially pegged as a second baseman and only stormed onto the pitching scene last spring, welcomed with instant success.
“Last year, she says to me, coach, can I try pitching this year?” Allard recalls. “And I said sure. It was one of the best ‘sure’ decisions I’ve made.”
In her first season pitching for Harvard, Bettinelli had an ERA of 3.14 and fanned 28 batters in 2003.
Sophomore Michele McAteer also returns for the Crimson after seeing considerable playing time last year, racking up 66 strikeouts with an ERA of 3.74.
Rounding out the pitching staff is freshman Becky Voaklander, who recently started and pitched her first complete game, an 11-2 victory against Liberty.
Behind the plate, junior Notre Dame transfer Annie Dell’Aria has already claimed an important role.
“She’s got it all as a catcher,” Allard says. “She blocks well. She has a great quick release down to second base.”
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