2016 Spring Sports Preview

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The Garnet teams are looking forward to a big spring

Men’s Tennis:

Even with a starting singles lineup composed of solely underclassmen (five freshmen and one sophomore), men’s tennis (13-6, 8-1 CC) put together the best 2015 campaign of any spring team. Though the team lost in the Centennial Conference championship to Johns Hopkins, the Garnet went undefeated against the other conference teams and was nationally ranked as high as 27.

Heading into this season, expectations are high. The team returns their top six singles players —  John Larkin ’17, Mark Fallati ’18, Ari Cepelewicz ’18, Blake Oetting ’18, Josh Powell ’18 and Michael Song ’18 — in addition to doubles specialist Thomas Vernier ’17. However, even with a strong core of players, the Garnet is faced with the daunting task of defeating Johns Hopkins — a team that has not lost a conference match since 2006.

“Beating Hopkins and making NCAAs is everything,” Fallati said. “We know we’re knocking on the door of that Centennial title and we’re only rising. Seeing what women’s soccer has done the last two years battling with Hopkins and finally getting a championship — we’re trying to emulate that and get our shot at NCAAs. And we plan to do it this year.”

With this indomitable attitude and bevy of talent, perhaps the tennis team could be Swarthmore’s next “Boy Who Lived.”

Women’s Tennis:

Last year the women’s tennis team (9-8, 5-5 CC) came very close to making the conference playoffs. However, on the last day of the season, a loss to #6 Johns Hopkins sealed the team’s fate, sending the players home before they were ready. Though the loss was tough to stomach, 2015 provided the Garnet with many positives. Specifically, the team did not graduate any of its players. As a result, coming into 2016, the team is familiar with each other and should only improve.

Led by Alli Wong ’17 and Maria Cuervo ’18, the team has high hopes coming into the year. In 2015, Wong and Cuervo each were named to the Centennial Conference First Team for doubles. Since they were both underclassmen last year, this year they should only be able to build on their previous success and chemistry.

Among the other contributing players are Anna Scheibmeir ’18, Ashley Gao ’18 and Rachel Bronkema ’18. Last year, these three athletes played major roles and this year should be no different.

“We have so much more experience, we have strong team chemistry…and we received some very good freshmen,” Bronkema said.  “I think we will be a much stronger team than last year.”

Men’s Lacrosse:

Despite coming off a rough season where it went 1-7 in conference, finishing eighth out of nine teams, the Garnet has high hopes. The team returns its starting goaltender Cole Fox ’17, versatile attacker Cam Marsh ’18 and defensive stalwart Jack Ryan ’18. Each of these players were starters for the entire year and made many positive contributions to the team. Fox was fourth in the conference in saves (166) and had an incredible seventeen save performance against Washington College. Marsh, then a freshman, tallied an impressive 23 goals in 15 games. Ryan solidified the backend, consistently forcing turnovers and recovering ground balls.

With star seniors such as Andrew Preiser ’15, Ian Lukaszewicz ’15 and Darrel Hunter ’15 having graduated, players like Fox, Marsh and Ryan will have to fill the void.

“The departed senior class was full of great leaders and important role players,” Ryan said. “But, strong freshmen contributors should fill the gaps with little problems.”

In particular, freshmen Griffin Johnston ’19, Dylan Rittenhouse ’19 and Christian Vik ’19 have all made positive impressions and appear primed for big years.

Women’s Lacrosse:

Heading into the 2016 season, the women’s lacrosse team will have graduated its two top producers: midfielders Elyse Tierney ‘15 (49 goals, 5 assists, 54 points) and Sara Lentricchia ’15 (29, 15, 44). Just like with the men’s team, players will need to step up and fill these gaping voids.

Three players to watch this season are attacker Lizzie Kolln ’16, attacker Kathryn Restrepo ’18 and defender Tazmin Bailiff-Curtis ’16. Last season, Kolln and Restrepo anchored the attack, combining for 54 goals in 16 games. On the flip side, Bailiff-Curtis proved to be a maven on the defensive side of the ball. She was named as an Honorable Mention for the All-Conference team.

However, Restrepo believes that the entire team will need to collectively account for Tierney and Lentricchia’s production. “I wouldn’t say that any specific person is expected to step up and fill their void,” Restrepo said. “This season is going to be team effort in every possible way. We gained two really strong freshmen and I think it’s safe to say that we have high expectations for every single member of the team this year.”

Another player in particular that the team has high hopes for is starting goaltender Connie Bowen ’16. Last season, Bowen ranked third in the Centennial Conference with 133 saves. If she can play at a high level, then the burden of replacing the star seniors will become a whole lot easier.

Softball:

After a year plagued by injuries, the 2016 softball team looks to regroup in a major way. First and foremost, the 2016 team will look a lot different from the 2015 team (5-17, 1-11 CC). Though the team graduated its catcher Emma Madarasz ’15, who led the team in hitting with a .413 average, it gained seven new freshmen. Now, eleven of the fourteen players are underclassmen, giving the team a very youthful feel.

The team also returns two standout upperclassmen: Christen Boas Hayes ’16 and Sara Planthaber ’17. Last year, both players hit over .400. Boas Hayes also led the team with 17 RBI while Planthaber finished second with 13. No other player recorded more than 6.

Excited by the prospect of a fresh start, Boas Hayes said, “I am confident this season will be one of our strongest to date…. We have talent and depth on the bench this year, so we have a strong foundation to start the season.”

Hopefully, for the Garnet’s sake, the team will be able to finish the year as well as it expects to start it.

Baseball:

Last season was a difficult one for the Garnet. After starting out with a record of 16-4 and 4-2 in conference, the team dropped 13 of its last 15 games, including its last 12 in conference. However, there were numerous positives from last season. Shortstop Wesley Fishburn ’17, pitcher Nate Booth ’16 and pitcher Aidan Miller ’17 headlined these positives.

Fishburn batted .399 and took home the Conference’s Golden Glove Award, which is handed out to the league’s best fielder. Booth led the team in ERA (2.50) and ranked second in the conference in saves (6). Last but not least, Miller, who finished with a stellar 2.61 ERA, threw the school’s first no-hitter since 1997.

In addition to these three standouts, the team has brought in twelve freshmen — many of whom are looking to make an immediate impact. Keep an eye out for pitcher Ricky Conti ’19, outfielder Andrew Kvasnicka ’19 and utility man Justin Pontrella ’19.

 

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