Jen Ward and the Huskies head to Georgia Classic to start 2012 season.
Feb. 16, 2012
STORRS, Conn.-The 2012 University of Connecticut softball team was picked to finish eighth out of 12 teams in the BIG EAST Conference this season. That selection, one higher than the 2011 preseason, comes after a season with a 19-30 overall record based on a 6-15 mark in BIG EAST action. The Huskies will kick off the 2012 campaign at the Georgia Classic on Friday-Sunday, Feb. 17-19 in Athens, Ga.
The 2012 UConn squad enters the season ready to capitalize on the return of 13 veteran players and seven starters. Gone is the talented All- BIG EAST performer Julie Towers and her classmate Kathleen Brenneman. The team will miss Towers field presence and offensive firepower, as well as Brenneman’s incredible work ethic. This year’s upperclassmen have each played key roles throughout their Husky careers and are poised to step-up and lead the way this season. Add to the mix some talented newcomers and this season’s battalion stands ready to compete for its 8th BIG EAST Championship.
The Husky pitching staff will be led this season by junior hurler Kiki Saveriano (Lexington, Mass). Saveriano is battle-tested, pitching 196 innings last year with an overall era of 3.59 and is poised to have her strongest season yet. The junior has already dotted UConn’s all-time record book and will strive to further her legacy as a UConn pitcher. Senior Ali Adelman (San Diego, CA) has continued to develop every year pitching 84 innings last season with an overall record of 8-7, as well as racking up an admirable 59 strikeouts. Adelman is physically and mentally stronger this year and is in position to have her best season yet. Adelman’s ability to move the ball well has allowed her to be a strong resource for the Husky coaching staff.
Supporting this duo are sophomore Katelyn Callahan (Queensbury, N.Y.) and freshman Lauren Duggan (Norwood, Mass). Callahan’s drop and change pitches compliment the Husky pitching staff and gives the team a different look that should prove formidable to the opposition. Duggan brings tremendous potential and firepower to the mound with her pitching speeds nearing 70 mph and will be a valuable weapon as she grows and matures over the next four years.
Calling the shots from behind the plate will be sophomore Andrea Huelsenbeck (Rockaway, N.J.) and senior Amy Vaughan (Somerset, Mass.). Huelsenbeck solidified herself as a dominant force behind the plate for the Huskies her freshman campaign starting in 48 games. Huelsenbeck earned a spot on the BIG EAST Third Team after 245 putouts and a .309 batting average. Vaughan also had a strong season last year and finished ranked third on the team with 23 RBI’s and a batting average of .270. Huelsenbeck’s strong athletic presence and rocket arm behind the dish, while Vaughan’s scrappiness, heart and positive demeanor with the pitchers really set a competitive tone for us. Complimenting the duo will be freshman Tori Thomson (South Windsor, Conn.) who will add reinforcement as she continues to develop her catching skills and transitions to the college game.
The Huskies return three starters to the infield. Sophomore Audrey Grinnell (Saco, Maine) who has earned her stripes at first base and worked hard this summer and fall to improve her consistency on offense. Two-year starter Brittany Duclos (Mystic, Conn.) returns to the middle infield again this year. She moved from shortstop to second base last season and is expected to step up and play an aggressive game for the team at second base. Duclos finished the season with a .255 batting average and is expected to continue to produce offensively. Newcomer Emily O’Donnell (Niskayuna, N.Y.) wasted little time creating a starting position for herself at short stop. O’Donnell’s mobility, range and shotgun arm make her an outstanding replacement for the graduated Julie Towers.
Adding to the infield are junior Kim Silva (Cheshire, Conn.) and senior Amy DeLuca (Bordentown, N.J.), who are poised to handle third base. Silva had a breakout year last season proving to be one of the Huskies top offensive threats. DeLuca set a new UConn record with 23 steals last season and led the team with a .423 on-base percentage. Deluca is currently working hard on her recovery from an ACL surgery this fall. She is expected to return and contribute both power and consistency to an offensive line-up as well as add reinforcement to the third base position.
Second year players Maddy Schiappa (Bedford, N.H.) and Huelsenbeck are also infield options. Schiappa brings speed to the base paths and plenty of range and arm to either an infield or outfield position. Freshman Ashley LaPenta (Bristol, Conn.) will provide reinforcement at second base.
Five returnees, along with two newcomers, give UConn plenty of options at the outfield positions. Seniors Jen Ward (Waterford, Conn.) and Amy Vaughan (Somerset, Mass.) will anchor the outfield. Ward will return to center field, bringing quickness and experience to the position. Ward is coming off her best season to date, racking up 19 steals while batting a respectable .268. Senior leader Amy Vaughan is expected play left field as well as back up behind the plate for the Huskies. Junior Marissa Guches (Sammamish, Wash.) will return to right field for the team. Guches’s powerful swing will keep the runs crossing the plate for the Husky offense this spring as she recorded 24 RBI’s last season.
Also in the outfield will be junior Jess McDermott (Clarksburg, N.J.), Schiappa and a pair of freshmen, Julie Curran (Nashua, N.H.) and Alexandra Falco (Ridgefield, Conn.). McDermott and Schiappa look to increase their roles from last year, contributing both offensively and defensively. Both Curran and Falco will also compete for spots as they gain experience and make the transition to the college level.