College of Southern Maryland Softball ready to roll
By TED BLACK firstname.lastname@example.org
March 10, 2017
On the heels of last year's solid campaign in which they went 24-20 and reached the championship round of the Region XX Tournament, the College of Southern Maryland softball team already has two wins under its belt and is seeking considerably more during a spring season that offers ample promise.
CSM (3-1 overall) opened the season with a pair of lopsided victories over Rappahannock (Va.), 16-1 and 17-2, then split versus Richard Bland (Va.) on Wednesday, winning 11-3 in six innings and losing 14-0 in five innings. The Hawks will kick off the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference portion of their schedule this Saturday when they host CCBC-Dundalk in a doubleheader.
CSM has only four returning starters from last year's team and the Hawks saw 2016 pitching ace Lori Sturgill, a McDonough High School graduate, transfer to Shepherd University in West Virginia.
"We don't have a lot of players back from last year's team, but we have four sophomore starters back who come to practice every day ready to do whatever we ask them to do," said CSM fourth-year head coach Jim Cleary, referring to shortstop Corinne Fernald, pitcher Amber Whelan, first baseman Allison McLane and outfielder Madison Boelke. "Anytime you have a group of girls back who are willing to play anywhere in the field and bat anywhere in the order, it makes things that much easier as a coach."
Fernald, a Chopticon High School graduate from Mechanicsville who is one of the team's captains for a second straight season, will spend most of her afternoons at shortstop although she has already filled in behind the plate.
Fernald, who plans to transfer to either Alderson Broaddus College (W.Va.) or University of Maryland University College this fall, admits the returning players have already formed a cohesive bond with the incoming freshmen, including Samantha Summers, a Chopticon High School graduate from Mechanicsville.
"Last year was a great learning experience for me and the other returning players," Fernald said. "It taught us what it takes to be successful at the college level. You have to come to practice ready every day and then be really focused on game days. It's a lot — balancing the schedule between practices, school, games and working part-time. But we're looking forward to the season."
McLane, a Chopticon High School graduate from Mechanicsville, will once again accept the duties at first base and she will likely bat third in the order, a role she often held last spring. Like Fernald, McLane is planning to transfer to Alderson Broaddus this fall, but she admits the Hawks spring season has top priority right now.
"We really have a good group of girls on the team this season," said McLane, who attended Monday's media session wearing a Hawks T-shirt with the phrase "We Before Me" on the back. "It's all about coming to practice every day and doing your job. Everyone knows what they have to do to help us succeed. We graduated some really good players, but we have a lot of new freshmen here who have fit right in."
While Sturgill left for Shepherd, CSM garnered an ideal replacement when Chloe Day, a Great Mills High School graduate from Lexington Park, transferred to the school after spending her freshman campaign at Chesapeake College where she went 11-2 with a 1.12 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 82 innings in the circle.
In the season opener at Rappahannock, Day made her presence known immediately when she allowed one unearned run on one hit and fanned five in five innings of work as the Hawks cruised to a 16-1 victory. Whelan, a Thomas Stone High School graduate from Waldorf, the Hawks' No. 2 pitcher, garnered the win in Game 2 when she allowed two unearned runs on five hits in three innings.
CSM scored five runs in the first, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and eight runs in the sixth in the opener. Fernald led the Hawks attack with four hits, while Summers, McLane, Andrea Kline (a La Plata High School graduate from Hughesville) and Day each had three hits. Summers, Caitlin Peters and McLane each had three hits in the nightcap and McLane and Kline collected six runs batted in during the twinbill.
While CSM parted with Sturgill and graduated Cruz, Kaitlyn Cave and Alexis Clark, Cleary was able to recruit incoming freshmen from all three Southern Maryland counties and Prince George's County. Peters (a Calvert High School graduate from Prince Frederick), IF/OF Savanna Pavkov (a Piscataway Academy graduate from Clinton), outfielder Emily Gibson (a Calvert High School graduate from Lusby), Kline and outfielder Megan Cunningham (a McDonough High School graduate from La Plata) all give the Hawks an infusion of youth and talent.
"We had a lot of success last year and we lost some key players, but we have an excellent group back this season and I honestly think this is the best team that I have had in my four years here are CSM," Cleary said.