January 13, 2010

Georgia College Softball Season Preview: Outfield

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - The Georgia College & State University softball team begins its season Feb. 5, and over the next three days, Bobcat fans will get a peek at the 2010 softball team, broken down by position. Today's final entry focuses on the Georgia College outfield.

Over the past five years with head coach Ginger Chaffinch at the helm, the Georgia College & State University 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, adding a pair of Academic All-American 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."

The outfield should be one of the most highly competitive spots, at all three positions. Experienced returners and talented newcomers will face off for the three roles.

Senior Allison Schwimer (Cumming, Ga.) returns to the outfield after spending the majority of the 2009 season as the starting second baseman. The versatile and speedy base-runner hit .216 with 16 runs scored and six stolen bases a year ago and has now played in three NCAA Tournaments in as many years.

Sabrina Chandler (Covington, Ga.) will factor in at all three outfield spots, as she took over as the regular starting rightfielder for the final 11 games. The slap hitter hit .333, scoring five runs and driving in three. Her speed causes problems for opponents both at the plate and in the field, as she is a very strong defensive outfielder.

Junior Kati Pickowitz (Keller, Texas) has experience at both corner outfield spots, starting 50 games over the last two years. She hit .153 a year ago with 13 runs and five RBI, and has worked on hitting from both sides of the plate in the fall.

A pair of junior transfers and a freshman dot the newcomers list in the outfield. Belourse Jean-Francis (Naples, Fla.) comes from highly-touted Santa Fe Community College, where she was a two-time All-American. "Strong as an ox" according to Chaffinch, Jean-Francis is a five-tool player, with solid defensive skills to go with her speed and ability to "hit the tar out of the ball".

Lauren Potts (Gray, Ga.) joins the Bobcats after two seasons at ABAC, one ending in a conference all-tournament team nod. Potts surprised Chaffinch with her live bat in the fall, as the skipper said she's "going to have to get her in the lineup somewhere" based off the power in Potts' bat.

Freshman Melanie Goolsby (Guyton, Ga.) has "surprising speed" for her 5-foot-8 height. She can hit for power as well. "She hits like a middle-lineup player and runs like a top of the lineup player," said Chaffinch. "She's really dangerous."

Defense may be the calling card of the 2010 Bobcats. Each position has vastly improved in the field. "This team has the potential to own one of the best defenses in my time here," she said. "Good defense can make up for some mistakes."

"With each member of the team, they do different things well in the field, pitching, hitting. It's just a matter of getting the right mix in there. They're all hard workers and are getting along well. With some pleasant surprises in the fall, each member of the roster will play an important part in our success this season."

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.