Smile - It's Softball Season

A dentist by trade, Dr. Mike Cooperstein, loves seeing smiles. In his first year as Franklin & Marshall’s softball skipper, he restored a smile to the faces of Franklin & Marshall’s softball roster by guiding the Diplomats to its first season with double-digits in the win column since 2004.

While the 10-21 record might not seem impressive on the surface, there were some shining moments that bode well for the future. Nine of the ten wins came in the month of April, where the results of the squad’s focus on fundamentals became obvious. Amongst the ten wins was the Diplomats’ first-ever sweep of traditional Centennial power, McDaniel. It was one of three double-header sweeps of the season from a team that just a year prior picked up both halves of a twinbill for the first time in three years.

Due to injury and graduation, a number of spots in the lineup will need to be to filled. Entering the season, the Diplomats have only two players that currently have set positions – Lauren Incorvaia and Jess Mancino. Incorvaia, a senior who started all 31 games last year, will return ad the Diplomats’ backstop. Incorvaia was fourth on the team last season with a .293 batting average and also drove in 11 runs for the Diplomats. She will serve as a team captain this season.

Mancino will return to centerfield hoping to have a senior season that mirrors her junior season’s success. She recorded six multiple hit games last season en route to a .290 batting average. Her seven stolen bases were a team high, giving her a total of 33 pilfered bags in her career. Mancino’s eight game hitting streak was the team’s second longest of the season. In addition to her prowess on the offensive half of the game, the Lancaster native was also perfect in her 57 chances in the field last season.

Barbara Sasso and Kelly Foelber will flank Mancio in the outfield. Sasso played in 20 games with 16 starts a year ago, and started 30 in her sophomore season. Foelber is a sophomore joining the team for the first time. The Marylander earned two varsity letters and the team MVP award at Stephen Decatur High School. Foelber has completed two seasons of swimming at F&M.

Senior Jessica Feldman is currently nursing an injured knee that cost the shortstop her senior season of hoops, but she should be ready for the start of the diamond tour. Feldman’s 2008 campaign was cut short by an injury, only appearing in five games, but her 2007 season showed flashes of brilliance as she was selected to All-Centennial First Team at shortstop.

Coach Cooperstein also anticipates that Caitlin Elfring, who is also suffering through an knee injury, will be close behind Feldman in taking the field. The junior sported a .337 batting average last season and recorded seven multiple hit games.

Junior Kristina Fietkiewicz is also looking at a late entry into the season after going through surgery in the offseason. Fietkiewicz returns after posting a .468 slugging percentage last season, when she led the team in triples. The junior also recorded five multiple hit games for the Diplomats. Fietkiewicz posted 19 runs scored and a .329 on-base percentage.

Cooperstein also anticipates that Sam Basuk, Brittany Kurtz, and Gina Camuso will all see playing time in the infield.

Basuk, a senior, brings a wealth of experience to the infield, tallying 75 starts since the 2006 season. She produced three multiple hit games last year did the dirty work of laying down five sacrifice bunts. The current senior also drove in 10 runs with 23 hits out of 88 at-bats last year.

Kurtz, a first-year, looks to continue her high school success and make an immediate impact for the Diplomats. Kurtz spent three years on the varsity team at Shikellamy High School and was a District-4 All-Star.

Alyssa Yackle will spend her junior year seeing time in the outfield for F&M. Yackle’s 2008 campaign ended with a .214 batting average and five RBIs. Also spending time in the outfield with Yackle is sophomore Karalynne Clark who spent the majority of her first season as the go-to pinch runner for Cooperstein.

Meredith Morgan, Nicole Morano - sophomore and first year player, and freshman Sara Damato will work the circle this season. Smith will hold down shortstop when Damato pitches while Damato will hold second base when Smith throws.

Morgan, who will serve as a captain, appeared in five games last season, finishing with a 2-3 record and a 6.49 ERA. In 22.2 innings pitched, Morgan struck out 19 batters. She is also a threat at the plate, driving in 14 runs last season. She recorded three multiple hit games, four multiple RBI games, and tacked on three stolen bases through the course of the 2008 campaign.

Morano is a promising pitcher for the Diplomats, joining the roster after a lustrous high school career that included being an All-BCSL American-League First Team selection both her junior and senior year and an All-Bergen County honorable mention her junior and senior year. Her athleticism was on full display in volleyball season where she garnered All-Centennial Second Team recognition.

The Diplomats open the season on March 6 at the Virginia Beach Blast. The Diplomats will face Emory & Henry, John Jay and Lycoming Colleges.