MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - The Georgia College & State University softball team begins its season Feb. 5, and over the next four days, Bobcat fans will get a peek at the 2010 softball team, broken down by position. Today's entry focuses on the Georgia College pitchers.
Over the past five years with head coach Ginger Chaffinch at the helm, the Georgia College softball team has become one of the premier programs in the southeast. The Bobcats have made four-straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, won the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Tournament, won an NCAA region title and produced six All-America trophies, with two Academic All-America honors in the past five seasons. The Bobcats are coming off a 32-24 year taking second in the PBC, matching the program's best finish.
What will they do for an encore? Integrate nine newcomers to some game-tested veterans in an effort to come up with the right formula for success.
"As a coach, you ideally want a good mix of four-year players with junior college transfers," said Chaffinch. "I think we have a really good balance this year."
"A lot of our success is going to come down to pitching," she said. "We got some pleasant surprises from our new pitchers in the fall, and with some continued hard work there we will start to see results."
Sophomore Haley Burnett (Columbus, Ga.) has seen the most ring-action in a Bobcat uniform among the team's four pitchers. As a rookie, she threw in 22 games with 12 starts, going 1-7 with a 5.04 ERA. She showed flashes of brilliance, getting her first win over West Alabama in a five-inning gem, allowing one earned run and fanning six. She also struck out 12 batters against Indianapolis in one of her best starts.
Classmate Sabrina Chandler (Covington, Ga.) (1-2, 4.38 ERA) will see her role shift more to the outfield, utilizing the freshman's speed on the base-paths and on defense, but could be called back to the ring in a pinch.
The two newcomers, rookie Kristi Rodriguez (Marietta, Ga.) and sophomore Caitlin Duvall (Douglasville, Ga.) will make an immediate impact on the rotation. While possessing vastly different demeanors, the two often come to the same result, a bulldoggish desire to get batters out. Rodriguez picked up the Bobby Baily Award for most athletic in North Georgia while attending Kennesaw Mountain High, while Duvall spent a season at Young Harris College, boasting a 2.94 ERA over 88 innings.
All-PBC Second Team selection Anna Parker (Columbus, Ga.) returns behind the dish, after playing in all 56 games a year ago. While she hit .217, she showed great pop with seven big home runs and 24 RBI. She'll hit in the middle of the lineup, and will hopefully "show more consistency to be more dangerous".
Three more catchers are on the 2010 roster, led by freshman Kali Carswell (Acworth, Ga.), a "very sound defensive catcher, improving daily on offense" according to Chaffinch. Joining her in the depth chart are junior Lisa Williams (Perry, Ga.) and freshman Kelsea Martin (Dacula, Ga.) but both are slotted for infield spots, and will only appear behind the plate in a pinch.
The Bobcats begin action at the GSW Tournament, hosted by Georgia Southwestern State University, Friday, Feb. 5 at 4:30 p.m. taking on Albany State University.
The GCSU Department of Athletics, winners of the 2008-09 PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 10 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Georgia College prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the Bobcats' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at Twitter.com username GCSUSID for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit www.GCSUBobcats.com to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GCSU Athletics Hall of Fame.