PHILADELPHIA It may still be cold outside, but that has not stopped the Penn softball team from preparing for the start of their season. The Quakers will kickoff their 2009 campaign at George Mason for a tournament this weekend followed by a double header against Delaware on March 4. The Red and Blue will then head south for their annual spring break trip in Florida before Penn dives into a steady schedule with games every weekend and several mid-week contests against local rivals.
Prior to the season Head Coach Leslie King answered questions on her program and the outlook for the 2009 season.
The team has a very deep pitching staff, what does that mean for the season?
It gives us a lot of flexibility when playing the 4 game/weekend Ivy schedule and we should still have some relatively fresh arms to throw the mid-week games.Those who know fastpitch softball know that pitching is everything!
How has the team prepared in the off-season to replace the prolific hitting of 2006 & 2008 Ivy League Player of the Year Christina Khosravi C’08 and 2007 Ivy League Player of the Year Annie Kinsey C’08.
I have been very impressed with how our returners have improved and several of the freshmen have shown their ability to hit with consistency and with power. I feel good about the offensive group we have and I’m confident that we will have another strong hitting team this year.
Seniors Emily Denstedt and Anna Puglisi both played thru injuries during their junior campaign. How have the two prepared for their final outing on the diamond?
Both Emily and Anna played in a lot of pain last season and weren’t able to produce their best.Emily had off-season knee surgery and Anna has worked hard to manage her injuries.It is their senior year and I fully expect them to give the team all that they have.
The underclassmen represent the majority of the lineup. What does that mean for the team and season?
Most of our team is comprised of freshmen and sophomores, but we also have strong leadership and experience among the upper classmen.Many of the current sophomore class saw significant playing time last year and we actually return 8 of 10 starters. We may be young, but we still have plenty of talent and enthusiasm to bring continued success to the program.But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the future looks very bright!
You have returning 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the year in Jessie Lupardus. What do you expect from her this season?
We expect Jessie and all of our returners to continue to improve and mature throughout their four years here. Jess has incredible talent and that intangible desire to be the best that is a pretty good mix that will bring her lots of continued success.We have a strong and deep pitching staff around her that should provide a lot of support and make her that much tougher.
What part of the season are you most looking forward to?
The spring break trip to Florida is always fun and a great opportunity to figure out where we are as individuals and as a team. Of course, I am looking forward to Ivy play and securing the programs 1st Ivy League title since 1981!
What do you tell prospective student-athletes about Penn and your program?
I tell them that Penn is the place to be! From an academic standpoint, it is a no-brainer; from an athletic standpoint, we are the program that has grown the most in the last few years and are considered one of the best in the League. With the new facility projects (most importantly, the softball stadium) I truly believe that we have a great package to offer a young student-athlete.
What are some goals that the team has set for the 2009 season?
We have just one goal win the Ivy League Championship.