Oct. 30, 2012
Though the softball team will continue workouts through Thanksgiving (they are now limited to group work two hours a week where they will continue to work on swinging, standard defense, and more swinging), "Fall Ball" effectively wrapped up last week. Coach Eileen Schmidt shares her impressions and thoughts from the early workouts and scrimmages.
Coach Schmidt on...
What Impressed Her
"I'd have to say the top thing that impressed me is how much better we got from game one (George Mason) to game seven (Delaware). How much we improved. How much the first years improved and really are pushing the upper classman to get better for playing time. The depth is better. I saw some really great leadership develop. The key to the whole thing is how you bottle up that game six and seven of Delaware and take that into the spring."
Explosiveness of the Offense Against Delaware
"For the last two years. we've talked as a staff about increasing our power numbers without giving up the average, which is hard when you asking for a lot of power numbers. It's a big park. We have a long fence comparatively to most teams, so we do have a lot of doubles and triples and not a lot of home run power at home. Against Delaware, we hit several home runs. It was a nice addition and obviously something we had been looking for. I would say that we had been building up to that. You are not expecting to come out with the world on fire in game one. If you do, where are you working to? I like the way that the team progressed and how individuals progressed. So that's what we are looking for in the Spring."
The First Years
"They are all pretty raw. They are all good athletes. They have had good coaching. They know the game. I would say they haven't had as much experience as say the California kids or Northeastern kids as far as playing. So what we have found, and what were finding, is their leaps and bounds are huge compared to the more polished kids, which makes them pretty dangerous athletes for the future and for the spring. It just pushes people. It promotes competiveness in a good way. That's what we've seen in the fall, great healthy battles for positions."
Battle for Centerfield
"Centerfield is just a battle right now. Its probably one of the most fun battles I've watched to see who is going to get that position because they are all doing well offensively. They are all doing great defensively. No one has really separated herself yet there and it hasn't been a `I'm so worried about getting my position I'm not doing my job' type of thing. Its just been a `go for it' type of fall for all of them. It will be a fun finish to the fall and it will be a fun start to the spring."
"Last year Gianinna Cipolloni graduated. She had been there for four years. And centerfield is a pretty posh position. There is Heidi Velk, who was in right field last year and Taylor Williams, who was in left field last year. There is Stephanie Harris, who played first base but who is not your prototype small, fast outfielder. She is tall and lanky, kind of like an Arizona outfielder. There is also Shannon McGinley, who is one of our first years. All bring different things to the table. All bring different leadership qualities to that position, because it is a leadership position. It's a very aggressive position and all of them and all of them play an aggressive outfield so it's been pretty fun to watch."
"We've seen people develop as infielders this fall. There's Carly Johnson at first base, who played third last year. You will see Steph Harris spending time at first base. Marcy Bowdren is at third. Savannah Perry, its her first year, at third and catching with Kristen Hawkins. Alex Skinkis has spent time at shortstop the past three years and really brings a solid blue collar kind of short stop. Erica Cipollini, Megan Harris and Taylor Sarcone have spent time at second. Lauren Didlake has always been a little injury prone, knock on wood. She had a great fall and a healthy fall. She doing the things she needs to do, stretching and rehab, in order to stay healthy. That's really the key to her."
In the Circle
"Melanie Mitchell has been our go to for four years. She had a great fall, another person who might not have started off super strong the first game but definitely picked up the pace a little bit. When she picks the pace, everyone else picks up the pace. Mel is a classic example of making those around her better. She didn't get a ton of time this fall, because we don't need her to get a ton of time. We already know what she can do. We have two first-years behind her, Aimee Chapdelaine and Emma Mitchell, that need a ton of time, just to catch up to the pace of the game. Both really progressed into that Delaware weekend which was exciting to see. Originally it was a little bit of that deer in the headlights, `what's going on?' type of thing into where they were throwers. Now they are pitchers. I feel good about where we are in the circle. Mel has been our stable pitcher. She going get her 24 or 25 games. She wants 30 this year. That's a lot of innings. Where we have always struggled is that two-slot. You need a two. Whether it is Aimee and Emma combined or Aimee or Emma or whatever it is, we need 8-10 games out of them where they have great outings and get us wins. That's the key to the second slot."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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