The UMBC Softball team finally begins non-conference tournament play this Friday, when it travels to Raleigh. N.C. for the Fairfield Inn & Suites Crabtree Invitational hosted by N.C. State.
The tournament was originally supposed to open the season for the Retrievers, but they added a last minute home game against Delaware on February 10, which they ultimately dropped, 6-3. Freshman pitcher Courtney Coppersmith (York, Pa.) earned America East Rookie of the Week honors after pitching 4.2 innings of relief, striking out ten, walking three and allowing one, unearned run.
Due to impending weather, the tournament schedule has already changed once, and could change again. Please follow @UMBCSoftball on twitter and check the schedule on UMBCRetrievers.com for the most up to date schedule.
The two Friday games against NC State will be broadcast on ACC Network and available online at WatchESPN.com.
A New Era
This season will be the first under new head coach Chris Kuhlmeyer. "Coach K" is the winningest coach in Belmont history and comes to UMBC after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant at Miami (Ohio).
Coach K on:
The team: "I see a team that is hungry to compete and take this program to another level, starting this year. They're excited about practices, they're excited about games. They're excited because they feel like they're improving and that they really have a chance to compete this year in conference. They're mainly excited to start the upward climb of the team and helping to build it to the point where UMBC Softball is consistently successful, year in and year out."
His coaching style: "Pretty aggressive. I love homers, I love hitting dingers, but I like to steal a lot bases and put pressure on the defense. I like to do that in a lot of different ways, whether we hit and run, and do the short game, just consistently getting contact and doing different things to put the defense on their heels, where they can't settle in. We try to do everything we can to put runners in motion and put pressure on the defense. Either we score a run on a a double, or we have to move station to station, we will do whatever it takes to score runs that day."
The young battery (pitchers and catchers): " [Freshmen] Courtney Coppersmith and Gillian McCarthy (Northfield, N.J.) are two talented lefties that have come in this year. Most staffs don't even have one lefty, we have two that are completely different pitchers. It's an advantage for us, not only for match-up purposes, but, they're so different we can bring one in and then the other right behind her and teams are going to get two different looks and two different speeds, and it's an advantage for us. We also have [junior righties] Valerie Hammett (Mechanicsville, Md.) and [transfer] Kelly Krizmanich (Burtonsville, Md.), they're totally different than the lefties. It's a great problem to have, to have four pitchers who are totally different from each other and throw different pitches at different speeds. Behind the plate we got three players that can throw out runners, and who do a really good job of handling the pitching staff and stealing strikes for our pitchers. They're smart and I feel really comfortable with whoever is catching that day. We got freshman Logan Hawker (Mechanicsville, Va.), who did a phenomenal job this fall and had a great game in her first career game against Delaware. She's a talented hitter and a talented catcher. We got [redshirt freshman] Anna Lonchar (Bristow, Va.), who played in a few games last season before tearing her ACL, but she's come back strong and had a nice opposite field double in that first game this year. She's been throwing out a lot of runners in practice and play some third base for us too. I expect Anna and Logan to be in the lineup quite often. We also have freshman Karly Keating (Orlando, Fla.), who's hurt right now, but she also did a great job this fall and is going to see some playing time at catcher or even first base. I'm very comfortable behind the plate, as not a lot of teams have that type of depth, with three talented catchers. We're excited by what we got in the circle and excited by what we got behind the plate."
The infield: "It is a pretty veteran infield, and it starts up the middle with our juniors. We got Kaly Winslow (Leesberg, Va.), who just transferred in from UNCW, and Maddie Daigneau (New River, Ariz.). Both are very talented, and both will get the chance to play shortstop and second base. We also have freshman Chloe Obispo (Virginia Beach, Va.) who is a very talented defensive second baseman, who is going to get playing time and make an impact on the team this year. At third base we got (2018 America East All-Rookie Team) Imani Dawson (Hanover, Md.), who's doing a great job over there and we expect her to compete for a spot there along with Anna Lonchar and senior Jenna Stupey (Edmonds, Wash.), who is one of the leaders of the program. All three of them will get a chance to play and make an impact this year. We got Kennedy Lamb (Mexico, New York) starting at first base right now. She's doing a great job defensively, she did really well this fall and we'll continue to see what she can do there. Karly Keating and Valerie Hammett are both going to get some time over there (at first base) to see who gives us the best matchups offensively day in and day out.
The outfield: "We do have a lot of speed. We got [senior] Mallory Pollack (Ivyland, Pa.) playing a lot of center field right now, she's going to get an opportunity to play. [Sophomores] Sierra Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio) and Julia Keffler (Huntingtown, Md.) both will get opportunities to play left, right, center, we're going to move some people around, along with senior Shayna Rider (Westminster, Md.) and freshman Noelani Herrera (Arnold, Md.). When Logan (Hawker) isn't behind the plate or at DP, she can play in left field, she's got such a good arm and such good instincts, she could start everyday in left field on a lot of teams. We got a lot of players who can play out there (in the outfield), and the great thing about all of them is that they are all very instinctual and make good reads off the bat, and not a lot of balls should end up falling unless they are ones we just can't catch. I'm excited to see what they can do, they've done a great this preseason. We will continue to move people around and see what the best lineup is day in and day out and see what combos work best.
Playing a tough schedule this weekend: "We're looking to establish that culture of hard work, and that we're going to compete as hard as we can, and be aggressive, and just getting used to that since (including fall ball and the one game this season) we haven't had a lot of games with each other. We're going to be moving people around and shifting lineups, probably every single game as we look for the best combinations we can come up with. It's all about figuring out what we have for conference play. So, I'm looking for us to go out there, compete hard, and learn how to compete and get comfortable with each other out there. Just learning how I want things done game after game, day in and day out, a little bit more in a game setting. By the time we get to conference play i'm pretty confident we will have a consistent lineup and they'll have a better idea what my expectations are from a gameplay standpoint."