SPORTS

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March 11, 2008

Softball at a glance

The Recap:

Last year, softball rode the long ball all the way to the playoffs for its second straight at-large bid to the postseason. The Maroons will try to make it three in a row this spring and hope to get past the first round after making early exits their past two trips.

Strengths:

Without a clear ace on the mound, Chicago looks to keep up its slugging ways after turning to a powerhitting lineup in 2007. Pitching has long been the team’s key to success, but last season saw six starters hit over .300, 10 Maroons rack up double-digit RBIs, and nine players go yard for a team that hit more home runs than any other in program history. The squad returns a number of last season’s heavy hitters, including fourth-year catcher and leadoff batter Vanessa Pineros (22 RBIs) and second-year pitcher Kathleen Duffy (seven home runs).

Weaknesses:

The Maroons’ pitching staff is young and relatively untested. Duffy, along with classmate Lauren White, will share the bulk of the pitching duties. The pair has 10 starts and an 8–4 record between them, since Petra Wade (A.B. ’07) got most of the innings last season. They’ll be joined by first-year Christy Corfias, but the offense will need to keep up the run production while this trio adjusts to its new roles.

Who to watch: Vanessa Pineros

The veteran catcher is going to be crucial to Chicago’s offense and defense. In addition to being behind the plate to ease the young pitchers into their high-profile spots, Pineros is likely to be a spark on offense. Swinging the bat with a dangerous combination of discipline and power, she had a team-leading 10 doubles, a .581 slugging percentage, and only one strikeout in 117 at-bats last season.