The Wolfpacker

March 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 68 of 95

N The Wolfpack Is Still Aiming High Despite Roster Changes STARTING OVER BY RYAN TICE C State head coach Lisa Na- vas is willing to admit that this season, like many of her pre- vious campaigns at the helm of the Wolfpack, is similar to starting over. The Pack returns six starters and a total of 10 letter winners, but has to replace several key pieces from last year's team that finished 26-23 overall and 7-13 in the ACC. ■ PREVIEW SOFTBALL "I think we are a completely new team, except for our outfield," the coach said. "Our outfielders are experienced, but the infield and pitching is pretty much brand new. This is my ninth season [at NC State], and I think we've been a brand-new team every year. "We don't have the years of experience behind us that many other programs do, but even if we were a veteran team we would approach it the same because everybody is different every year." Although the team might not be expe- rienced, it is flush with versatility. With a roster of five seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and six freshmen, the coach- ing staff must help all of their position players prepare to play multiple spots on the diamond. "Even some kids that don't come in thinking they can play other positions, we've put them in at different spots," Navas explained. "We have only 17 players this year and three of them are pitchers. That brings us down to 14 position players, and we have to be able to make adjustments because it's a long season." The outfield — junior left fielder Bethaney Wells, senior center fielder Landon Warren and junior right fielder Caitlin Dent — is the foundation of the Last year, senior Landon Warren produced a .242 average with four home runs and 13 RBI while playing an outstanding center field. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS Wolfpack this spring. The trio combined to start 124 games last season and totaled 46 runs scored, 98 hits, 12 doubles, 16 home runs and 65 RBI. The Pack's other return- ing letter winners combined for 90 starts, 41 runs, 67 hits, nine doubles, one home run and 19 RBI in 2011. Wells enjoyed a monster season last year and provided much of the Pack's power, finishing with a team-best nine round-trip- pers and tied for first on the squad with 30 RBI. Last year's .308 clip at the plate is the second best of any returning player, and Navas has high hopes for the junior this season. "She was outstanding last year," the coach said. "She redshirted in 2010 be- cause of an injury, and her injury is ongo- ing. I don't think she's a 56-game kid that can go the whole season. We'll need to manage her, but she's very quick — even on the bases — and she has a lot of power. She makes a big difference for us." Another difference-maker for the Pack is Warren, a hometown girl from Raleigh Broughton High. Her stats took a little bit of a dip last season (.242 with four home runs and 13 RBI) from a sophomore year in which she was named second-team All-ACC (.319 with four homers and 14 RBI), but she was still among the Pack's best offensive threats last year. Navas also commended the right-handed hitter for her defensive prowess while patrolling center field. "She's a phenomenal center fielder," Na- vas said. "She does a good job, she can make things happen and she's a kid that gives us a lot of tools at the plate. She'll help us out a lot." One athlete who has spent her first three years playing mostly in the outfield, but will move to second base for her final cam- paign is Toni Ann Williford. Navas noted that the team needed the senior's bat in the lineup during previous seasons, but the team had a logjam of capable infielders, so the youngster willingly changed positions. Moving back to her natural spot on the diamond should bring continued success for the left-handed hitting Williford, who leads all returning players in batting aver- age (.310), games played and started (48), at-bats (155), runs (24), hits (48), doubles (six) and walks (19). "She's another kid that if she just has a good time and plays the game, she will be fine," the coach noted. "She has been an outstanding leader. She always has a smile on her face, and she is one of our only two left-handed hitters. She'll probably be in the leadoff spot for us." The infield that surrounds the senior sec- ond baseman is not nearly as experienced, but the quartet of newcomers to the starting lineup could easily develop into a good player like Williford, who logged just 21 starts before last year's breakout campaign. Sophomores Chelsea Tate and Scout Al- bertson are expected to log time at third base while Navas expects classmate Leah Jones to man the other corner infield slot. Rookie Renada Davis from Tomball, Texas, is expected to start at shortstop for the Pack while senior Katie Mansilla is healthy after redshirting last year and should also con- tribute in the middle infield. The battery has also gone through changes for the Pack. Senior Morgan Peeler is State's top returning pitcher for ■ Projected 2012 Lineup strikeouts) Morgan Peeler, Sr. (10-7, 3.54 ERA, 1202 Jade Hennig, Sr. (2-2, 3.88 ERA, 212⁄3 (2011 stats listed) C — Kirsty Grant, So. (Tallahassee [Fla.] Junior College, .341, 27 runs scored, six doubles, four home runs, 19 RBI) 1B — Leah Jones, So. (Five at-bats, one RBI) 2B — Toni Ann Williford, Sr. (.310, 48 hits, 19 walks, six doubles, eight RBI) SS — Renada Davis, Fr. (Tomball [Texas] High School, .548, 60 runs scored, 23 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs) 3B — Scout Albertson, So. (One at-bat, four runs) OR Chelsea Tate, So. (.183, 19 hits, seven walks, 12 runs scored, three doubles, one triple, one home run, 10 RBI) LF — Bethaney Wells, Jr. (.308, 40 hits, 18 walks, 17 runs scored, three doubles, nine home runs, 30 RBI) CF — Landon Warren, Sr. (.242, 30 hits, five walks, 16 runs scored, three doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI) RF — Caitlin Dent, Jr. (.230, 28 hits, 12 walks, 13 runs scored, six doubles, three home runs, 22 RBI) DP — Katie Mansilla, Sr. (.246, 17 hits, nine walks, 15 runs scored, four RBI in 2010) P — Emily Weiman, Fr. (Archbishop Spalding High School in Pasadena, Md., 17-3, 0.15 ERA, 1361 ⁄3 innings pitched, nine strikeouts) ⁄3 innings pitched, 11 complete games, 70 strikeouts) MARCH 2012 ■ 69 innings pitched, 305

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