LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates softball team that takes the field to start the 2013 season on Thursday in Clermont, Fla., will look quite different from the one that tied the program record for wins in 2012, finishing 18-12.
Bates graduated nine players from that team, and what seems like half of the team's record book went with them. Six of those nine were every-game starters. But despite those numbers, Bates' cupboard is far from bare.
Particularly in the pitching circle. Bates graduated Kristen Finn from the pitching staff, but should get a jolt from senior Caroline Gattuso's (North Reading, Mass.) return to the roster after a year away from Bates. Gattuso is the owner of the two highest strikeout totals for a season in team history. In 2011, she went 6-7 with a 2.35 earned run average.
Gattuso rejoins a staff that already had two returning hurlers, in sophomores Brenna Callahan (Milton, Mass.) and Kelsey Freedman (Falmouth, Maine). Callahan, Bates' first lefthanded pitcher in years, went 2-0 with two saves, with a team-low earned run average of 3.09 in 43.0 innings over 18 appearances, while the righthanded Freedman set a team record for winning percentage, going 8-3 with a 4.58 ERA. Bates will have the luxury of a fourth pitcher on the roster in first-year 1B/P Mary Deneen (Windsor, Conn.).
The Bobcats also have three returning every-day starters, all of whom were major contributors last year.
Senior catcher AnnaMarie Martino (Plymouth, Minn.) has led the team in batting each of the past two seasons, hitting a career-best .427 last year following a .424 campaign in 2011. She also stole 13 bases on 15 attempts and posted career highs in slugging (.507) and on-base percentage (.476). Senior captain Mary Lewis (Gardiner, Maine) sports a career .346 batting average and went 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts in 2012 while playing a solid third base, and junior captain Alayna Garbarino (Reading, Mass.) established herself as a run producer last season, driving in 25 runs, second on the team, while slugging at a .432 rate and playing solid defense at second base.
Six newcomers fill out the roster, some of whom will start on opening day. Five of the six are on other Bates varsity teams in addition to softball: Deneen (volleyball), sophomore Molly Brown (basketball), and first-years Anna Berenson (field hockey), Alex Eliopoulos (field hockey) and Karen Lockhart (soccer).
Bates takes on Lesley College at 9am Thursday at the annual National Training Center Tournament, to be followed by games against Salve Regina (Thursday 1pm), Westfield State (Friday 1pm), Becker (Friday 3pm), Oswego State (Saturday 1pm) and UMass-Boston (Saturday 3pm).