Softball’s veterans look to lead newcomers along | The Triangle

Softball’s veterans look to lead newcomers along

Drexel senior catcher/infielder Paige Collings jogs to first base. Collings finished last season leading the Dragons in batting average (.333) and home runs (9).
Despite the flurriesinthe air, the Drexel softballteamis primed for the start of a new season.

The Dragons had anoverallunderwhelming 2011 season finishing with a 15-28 (7-14,ColonialAthleticAssociation)record,goodfor seventh placeinthe CAA.Sincethen, Drexel has lost five seniors,whichincludesKelly Downes, Laura Stagliano, Ellen Boundy, Katy Harrington and Rachel Campbell. Of the five, Campbellwillbe missed the most withher.305 battingaverage, three home runs and 22 runs battedin. Theywillalso be sad to see Stagliano’s speed on the base-path go, as she stole 24 basesin25 attemptslastseason.

Asmuchasthey’ll misstheirseniors, the Dragonswillbe welcoming three freshman, Maggy Fermo, Sylvia Llamas and Jill Popek. Of the freshman, Llamas and Popek look to be the most promising new teammates. As a sophomore, Llamas helpedArchbishopMitty HighSchoolachieve an undefeated season and a rankingastheNo.1 softballteaminthe nation by ESPN. Popek, a four-year letter winner atBishopAhr HighSchool, currently holds the highschool’s home runrecord, and the single season records for battingaverageand home runs.

Head coach Kim Camara thinksbecauseof the small freshman class,eachnew playerwillhave anequalopportunity to contribute.

“We have a small freshmen class, so I think they allwillcontribute,” Camara said. “Sylvia Llamas and Maggy Fermowillbring us some speed and steady gloves, and Jill Popekwilladd some power.”

Along with the newcomers, the Dragonswillhave 13 returning playersin2012. Of the 13, seniors Paige Collings and Hillary Allenwilllook to be the most significant contributors this season.Lastseason the catcher, Collings, lead theteaminvirtually every offensive category, with a .333 battingaverage, nine home runs and 33 runs battedin. Allen sported an 11-11recordinthe circle during the 2011 season, with a 2.93earned run average, and 16 complete games. Allen was also a threat at the plate with a .309 battingaverage, four home runs and 21 runs battedin. Camara loves the experience and leadershipthatherseniors bring.

“We have a really experiencedseniorclass,” Camara said. “All year they have shown great leadership and look for all of them to contribute. Obviously wewilllook to Paige Collings and Hillary Allenwhowere both firstteamAll-CAAlastyear.”

Anotherpitcherthatwillbe looked at as a key contributor comingintothis season is sophomore pitcher Shelby Taylor. Taylor had a 4-12 record, with a 4.99 ERA and 60 strikeouts. Taylor stepped up as a freshman by making 23 appearances, starting 13 games, and pitching seven complete games.

The Dragonswillopentheirseason at the Pirate ClassicinGreenville, N.C. Drexelwillplay two doubleheadersintwo days. Theywillface the University ofVirginiatwice, CanisiusCollegeand the hostingEastCarolina University Piratesina total ofthree days of competition. Camara likes the Dragons chances to start the year.Sincewe’ve had such nice weather thiswinterinPhiladelphia, she feels happythatthey’ve been able to practice outside.

“We are excited to get out thisweekendand face some great competition,” Camara said. “We have been lucky enough to practice outside often and I know that will make a big difference.”