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PHILADELPHIA – Collegiate softball has already begun around the country, and Penn will begin its 2013 campaign this weekend as it travels to Florida for the annual Spring Break trip. The Quakers will be taking part in two tournaments – Central Florida’s Spring Fling and the Rebel Spring Games – totaling 13 games.
UCF Spring Fling: Orlando, Fla.
Penn will open up the season as the home team on a neutral Central Florida field against Connecticut at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. Later in the day, the Quakers will meet Ole Miss at 2 p.m. as the away team. Then on Saturday the action continues at 2 p.m. when the Red and Blue meet Big 5 rival Villanova as the home team. Penn closes play on Saturday evening against host UCF at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, the Quakers will meet the Huskies once again in the final game of the tournament, set to being at 11:30 a.m.
Rebel Spring Games: Kissimmee, Fla.
The Red and Blue continue their tournament play as the road team against Holy Cross at 9 a.m. on Monday. Penn’s next game is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. that same day against Sacred Heart. On Tuesday, the Quakers doubleheader consists of Loyola University-Chicago at 9 a.m. and South Dakota at 11 a.m. After a day off Wednesday, Penn is back in action on March 7 for another doubleheader, this time against Tennessee-Martin at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. On the final day of competition on March 8, the Quakers will finish up against South Dakota at 11 a.m. and Akron at 1 p.m.
The Red and Blue returns its entire starting lineup from last season’s Ivy League South Division championship team. That roster consists of eight 2012 All-Ivy players, including three first-team honorees. Penn went 33-17 last season, and 16-7 in the Ivies, which was the best record in program history.
One of those eight returning All-Ivy players, last season’s freshman phenom Alexis Borden, will be the focal point in the circle in 2013. The sophomore dominated in her first year in the Ivy League, culminating her season with an exclamation point by throwing the first-ever perfect game in program history, propelling Penn to a South Division title and a meeting with Harvard in the Ivy League Championship Series. The unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection earned the third Rookie of the Year award in program history by leading the league in wins (24), appearances (34), games started (27), complete games (25) and innings pitched (196.2). Her ERA (1.46), shutouts (7) and strikeouts (193) ranked second.
Lindsay Mann and Jen Retzer started just three games apiece last season, but will be asked to take on expanded roles within the circle with a thinned pitching staff. Mann appeared in eight games last season, compiling a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched while Retzer pitched just 13.1 innings in five games.
Catcher is a position of strength for the Quakers. Quad-captain Elysse Gorney was one of Penn’s three first-team All-Ivy players and split her time between catcher and designated player. She batted in the two spot for all but three games last season, ranked second on the team in stolen bases (11), hits (47), runs scored (29), tied for second in doubles (8) and was third in batting average (.309). Gorney’s backup, fellow quad-captain Jessica Arneson started 26 games and tied for third on the team in fielding percentage (.973).
Georgia Guttadauro and Karina Rios spilt time at first base for the Quakers in 2012. Guttadauro spent most of the season batting fifth or sixth in the order. She hit .286 in 34 games played last season, and ranked second on the team in slugging percentage (.488) and fielding percentage (.985). Rios had an outstanding freshman year in Philadelphia, playing in 41 games and earning a second-team All-Ivy selection. Now a sophomore, she led the team in slugging percentage (.500) and doubles (9), spending the majority of the season in the seventh spot.
Another quad-captain, Samantha Erosa, started all but five games at second base and earned her first-ever second-team All-Ivy selection. She batted sixth and seventh most of the year and was second on the team in batting (.302) and on-base percentage (.393) and was one of just four Quakers to score at least 20 runs. As a first-year captain, Erosa made an impact during conference play, batting .345 against Ivy teams.
Kayla Dahlerbruch started 48 of her 49 games played at third base, earning honorable mention All-Ivy. She was second on Penn with 29 RBIs, tied for second on the team in home runs (6) and walks (21), and tied for third in doubles (6). The Californian hit third in the lineup in 48 games as well.
Shortstop belonged to Stephanie Caso, as she made 47 starts there as a junior and tied for third on the team in fielding percentage (.973). Now a senior, the Brooklyn native spent the majority of her season batting in the ninth spot.
Second-team All-Ivy performer Sydney Turchin led the team in almost every offensive category. The left fielder led Penn in batting (.329), runs scored (39), hits (52), walks (22), on-base percentage (.414) and steals (12). She played in all 50 games in 2012 – the only Quaker to do so – led the Ivy League in runs and was second in stolen bags and bases on balls. Turchin batted leadoff in all 47 of her starts.
The last quad-captain, Jessica Melendez, occupies centerfield for the Red and Blue. Melendez earned honorable mention All-Ivy honors in 2012, led Penn in the power category with eight home runs and was second in RBIs (61). The Miamian spent most of her time in the fifth spot of the order, but did see at-bats in the sixth spot as well.
Brooke Coloma was the third of Penn’s first-team All-Ivy performers and started all but two games in right field. She led the Quakers and was second in the Ivies with 34 RBIs. The Californian dominated in Ivy play, batting .328 and driving home a league-leading 20 runs. Entering into her senior season, Penn’s cleanup hitter ranks fourth on the program’s all-time RBI list and needs 21 more to become the all-time leader.
Live stats will be available for most of Penn’s 13 contests in Florida and the official Penn softball Twitter account, @UPennSoftball, will live blog during each game.