Jan. 13, 1998
Women's Softball Outlook
It usually takes newborns about two years to fully adjust to their new surroundings. By year three, they are full of energy and exploration. There are no limits to what they think they can accomplish. They have their feet firmly on the ground and they are going full speed ahead. Sure, there is an occasional stumble, but they're back on their feet in no time. Sometimes it's best to just get out of their way and watch them go. It's a similar situation with the Terrapin softball program, which enters its fourth season in 1998.
Fourth-year coach Gina LaMandre has her troops in position to make a name for themselves on the national level. Maryland underwent some natural growing pains in its first year in 1995, recording a 15-33 record, but has consistently improved the last two seasons. With five of her starters returning, including 1998 All-America candidate Kelly Shipman, LaMandre is anxious about the year at hand and her team's prospects.
"We have added a solid bunch of newcomers to the squad. Their presence, coupled with our veterans, will help us close the gap on those teams above us. If we combine hard work with the proper attitude, we'll be successful," says LaMandre.
In order for the Terrapins to be successful in 1998, they will have to be more consistent than they were last season. Up one day, down the next. Fortunately, the Maryland pitching staff enjoyed a steady year. Junior pitcher/infielder Kelly Shipman is back for her third season on the mound and in the infield. Shipman, who was named First Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference and co-MVP of the ACC Tournament, posted 12 shutouts with a 0.95 ERA, and hit a team-high 325. Her bottom-of-the-sixth dinger propelled the Terps to a 2-1 victory over Florida State in the ACC Tournament and earned them a share of the ACC title.
Junior Tisha Killian will also see a great deal of time in the pitching rotation. Killian totaled 15 appearances last season and recorded a 2.51 ERA. She has played in the infield as well the last two years but will primarily be used in the pitching rotation this year.
Junior Fawna Lackovic, who will split her time at catcher and in the outfield this season, is a talented athlete who has the ability to play several positions for Maryland. The last two seasons, Lackovic has played shortstop and in the outfield. She possesses great speed and a strong arm which will help the Terps on offense and on defense.
Junior second baseman Amy Sandler, one of the best technical infielders on the team, can ignite the Terps at the plate. Although she struggled at the plate last season, Sandler was always defensively sound. Sandler was third on the team in runs last season with 20. Maryland will rely on Sandler's leadership qualities to carry it to new heights.
Sophomores Jessica Krug, Cortney Madea and Sarah Putnam, also returning starters, will provide Maryland with a potent scoring attack. Madea, a First Team All-ACC selection last year, hit .252 which was third-best on the team, and had a team-high 18 RBI. Krug returns to the Maryland outfield for the second consecutive season. Krug played in 48 games last season and was second on the team in doubles with seven. Putnam, Maryland's starting catcher as a freshman, provides power at the plate, and was second on the team in batting average last year.
In addition to the returnees, LaMandre will count on 10 newcomers to add depth, punch and talent to the Terrapin efforts.
The Terps will host their first preseason tournament this year, and will travel to North Carolina for two preseason tournaments. The ACC schedule includes home games against national powerhouses Florida State and South Florida.
The Terrapins will once again set their sights on another ACC title. And it appears all the ingredients are in place for a full speed charge onto the national scene.