“We brought in an infielder who can play second, short, and third,” Allard said. “We brought in a utility player who can play the infield or the outfield. We brought in another pitcher who can play first and can hit, so I think the big words for these freshmen are versatility and depth.”
Last season, Allard opted for a rotation with two main starters and a mix of bullpen arms who could also stand in and make spot starts as necessary. This year, the rotation may take a different form after the departure of 2016 co-captain Morgan Groom.
“That’s kind of what worked last year,” Allard said. “This year we might have four starters. As we head into the conference, we’re going to play the same team some weekends four times, so we’ll have to see where people are, where their development is, and where they’re effective.”
Last season, Groom pitched to a 10-4 record with a sterling 2.30 ERA, second-best in the Ancient Eight. She also recorded 95 strikeouts.
Returning this year will be Groom’s 2016 counterpart, senior Taylor Cabe. The Boiling Springs, S.C. native contributed 15 wins, second-most among Ivy pitchers, to go along with a 3.12 ERA. She starts the 2017 season as the presumptive ace of the staff.
Behind Cabe, there are some question marks. Allard has a mix of sophomore and freshmen pitchers who will slot in behind Cabe both to start games and come out of the bullpen.
“All of our pitchers tend to throw a lot of innings,” Bradley said. “Obviously we’ll see the leadership from our senior pitcher, Taylor, but we’re also looking to use the depth that we have in our pitching staff.”
Sophomores Sarah Smith, Katie Duncan, and Nicki Nishizawa all will have to make up for the 103.1 innings tossed by Groom the previous year. Smith and Duncan both pitched in key spots in the late innings and in spot starts last season.
“Last year Sarah Smith was so very effective for us as a closer… but this year she’s really worked hard to be a strong starter, so she’s going to be somebody that can play both roles,” Allard said.
Along with Cabe and the trio of sophomores, freshmen Olivia Giaquinto and Alissa Hiener will spend some time in the circle.
IVY LEAGUE OUTLOOK
Though the Crimson has retained much of its core from last year, it will still have to contend with a fairly deep Ivy League. Alongside Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton stand atop the league.
All eight Ivy teams have to deal with difficult competition at the weekend tournaments early on in the season, but relative to other Northeast teams, the Ivy League is competitive. The only clear-cut bottom feeder team in 2016 was Cornell, which tallied only three wins in 20 league games.
Allard cautions against counting out any Ancient Eight squads, however. The 23-year veteran skipper remarks that on any given day the Crimson has to be prepared for a tough contest due to the relative parity in the conference.