By Emily Hayes
The 2013 season ended with the Bridgewater State University softball team winning the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) championship, but losing in the NCAA Div. III Tournament.
The Lady Bears hope to get back to that point this year, but are taking on a lot of change for the upcoming season, which begins March 8 with a doubleheader against Kenyon College and St. John Fisher College in Fort Myers, Florida.
The first major change comes in the form of Chrissy Semler, the Bears’ new head coach and third head coach in the past year.
“What brought me to Bridgewater was that I went here for school,” Semler said. “I went to this college for many years and I decided to come back and coach.”
The coaching carousel continued in the offseason with Brianna Strecker being named an assistant coach. Strecker recently played for the Lady Bears, as she was the starting catcher and captain of last year’s squad.
“When I graduated, I had spent so much time with the program and the team and the school I didn’t want to leave,” Strecker said. “I felt like I couldn’t walk away from the program. Once coach Semler was hired, I had talked to her about possibly helping out.”
The Lady Bears come into this season with big expectations as they were named the favorite to win the MASCAC in the MASCAC preseason poll.
They return several key players from last year’s title team, including MASCAC Pitcher of the Year Amber White. The senior captain posted a 15-7 record with an astounding .60 earned run average last season.
Senior catcher and outfielder Jill Welch and junior shortstop Jocelyn Bettencourt also return to solidify the Bears’ lineup.
Even with with some players returning, the Lady Bears have many new faces on the team including 12 freshmen.
“I’m looking forward to the team coming together and seeing what all the new freshmen are able to do,” Semler said. “I have a lot of understanding of what the returners are able to do but I’m looking forward to seeing what the freshmen can do. Our team is made up of fifteen [new players] which I think is unusual but good. We have a lot of talent on the team.”
With several freshmen and transfer players, the Lady Bears are trying to establish a team chemistry that could help them win this upcoming season.
“The team this year takes what you say and they work with it,” said senior catcher and captain Corrie McCue. “They’re really eager to learn and so this year I think more than ever we have a team who comes in and gives 100 percent every day. It’s given us an opportunity to start over again.”
After playing 10 games in five days during their Florida road trip over Spring Break, the Lady Bears host Wheaton College in a doubleheader on March 18.
Emily Hayes is a Comment sports writer. Email her at email@example.com.