LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall softball opens the 2017 season with 10 games between March 12-17 during the squad's spring break trip to Orlando, Fla. The Diplomats look to reach the Centennial Conference (CC) Playoffs for the first time after posting a 20-16 record and narrowly missing out last year.
To watch the 2017 F&M softball season preview video, click here.
The loss of last season's lone senior, Patricia Crigler, will hurt as she filled a key spot in the lineup for F&M and ranks in the all-time top 20 of several statistical categories. However, eight other starters and an experienced pitching staff return for the Diplomats. A group of four newcomers joins a roster loaded with experience as the team aims for its first trip to the conference tournament.
Erin Russell - Jr. – C/INF
Taylor Long – So. – INF/OF
Sammy Burns – Jr. – INF/OF
Sam Clemens – So. - INF
Katie Wenger – Jr. – P/INF
Izzy Schaefer – Jr. – P
Russell returns for her junior season after earning All-CC First Team recognition last year as a sophomore catcher. Her bat will again be important for F&M as she led the team in batting average (.351) and on-base percentage (.406) a year ago.
Long also garnered All-CC First Team honors as a utility player, after ranking second on the team with a slugging percentage of .535 and third in batting average (.338) and on-base percentage (.392).
Burns will again provide the pop in the middle of the lineup, as her .607 slugging percentage was fourth in the CC last year and her five home runs ranked fifth in the Centennial. Both numbers paced the Diplomats as she landed on the All-CC Second Team. Clemens also garnered All-CC Second Team honors in her freshman campaign after leading F&M with 41 hits, as well as notching team highs with eight doubles and five triples.
Schaefer and Wenger form the core of the pitching staff, collecting nine wins each in 2016 and helping the team to a collective ERA of 3.20.
The Road Ahead
Games against Illinois College and No. 12 Rowan on March 12 begin the season with 10 contests in six days of play in Orlando, Fla. F&M will see another top-25 opponent during the trip, taking on No. 17 Wisconsin-Eau Clair on March 16. Live stats will be available for all 10 games.
Nonconference action continues on March 23 when the Diplomats take on York (Pa.) in a doubleheader for F&M's home opener.
Centennial play begins two days later when the Diplomats visit McDaniel for a twin bill on March 25. Haverford comes to Lancaster on April 1 for the home conference opener, with other home conference doubleheaders scheduled for April 8, 22, and 29.
CC Playoffs are scheduled for May 5-7.