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Appalachian State softball concluded preseason practice on Wednesday and prepares for opening day on Feb. 10.
Courtesy: Dave Mayo (Appalachian, '83)
Softball Gears Up for 2017 Season
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Wednesday 02/08/2017 (ET)
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BOONE, N.C.  – Appalachian State University softball will wrap up preseason workouts on Wednesday and is ready to start the 2017 spring campaign Friday, Feb. 10.

“I am really excited about the energy and the enthusiasm that we have had in practice,” said Head Coach Janice Savage. “We have been doing a lot of work on some skills and working a little bit more on our team aspect. I am proud of them for putting a lot of work in on their own to get their individual skills better, but I am really excited about where we are. We are ahead of the curve from where we were last year.”

“We have some very athletic ladies who did well for us in the fall, so I look for that to pick up and continue,” said Savage. “We have also had some surprises here in the last couple of weeks from some kids who were injured in the fall or trying to figure things out, and now they have. I am excited to see how everybody meshes and blends together, but as of right now, we are looking really good.”

App State Returners

For the 2017 spring campaign, Coach Savage returns all three of her heavy hitters, including senior Cara Parker, sophomore Natalie Orcutt and junior Heather Josey. Parker proved to be the Mountaineers’ best offensive threat playing and starting in 56 games and topping eight team categories. The Georgia native cranked out the best batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.647) and on base percentage (.446), and racked up the most runs scored (38), hits (54), RBI (45), total bases (101) and home runs (12). Also, Parker totaled three hits in five different games and ended the season with a six-game hitting streak from Apr. 30 to May 8. Orcutt was featured in every game of the season, gathered 53 starts and was responsible for the second-best batting average at .335. Orcutt tallied three scored runs in two matches and held the second-longest hitting streak (eight-straight games). Rounding out the top three bombers is Josey who amassed 51 hits, 14 doubles, nine home runs, 29 RBI and 30 runs in 160 at-bats on the season.

In addition to Orcutt, Savage returns six sophomore letterwinners for 2017 that include Maddy Bloom, Jenny Dodd, Claire Eosso, Annaleise Kennedy, Megan Walker and Ally Walters. Out of the six, Dodd highlighted the 2016 freshman class and spearheaded the Appalachian defense. Dodd was App State’s starting catcher and held the fourth-best fielding percentage of .987 and was responsible for 200 putouts.

The final five letterwinners returning to the High County will be redshirt sophomores  Haley Stewart and Katie Williford, junior Tiffany Taynor (New Smyrna Beach, Fla. and seniors Vanessa Ciocatto and Katie Mathewson. Stewart saw action in ten games and produced a season-high of four RBI on a home run against Canisius, Williford pitched in three games and made two batters strikeout and Taynor played and started in every game in 2016 and gathered the most plate appearance (196) and at-bats (175). Senior Ciocatto reigned as the leading pitcher snatching 26 starts in the circle and accumulated the best ERA (5.64) and collected 70 strikeouts. Lastly, Mathewson played in 47 games and registered a three-game hitting streak on the season.

Fresh Talent in the High Country

“I am expecting a lot out of our freshman,” said coach Savage. “I am expecting them to be good teammates, which is the biggest thing. We are working really really hard to change the culture of what is the standard for us, so I think the biggest thing for me out of the freshmen is for them to remember their standard of what it took for them to get here and to continue down that road.”

13 newcomers enter Boone for the 2017 season including 12 freshmen and one junior transfer from Daytona State College, Mackie Chandler (OF). The incoming bunch includes four infielders, Charlotte Murphy, Sidney Russell, Laura Sales and Keri White, two outfielders,  Alisha Josey and Gabby Buruato, three catchers, Macy Bjorson, Haley Glover and Taylor Rivenburgh, two utilities, Tristyn Edwards and Caitlin Shepherd, and one fresh face to the pitching staff, Kenzie Longanecker.

Savage’s Notes

“My expectations for this season is for us to grow. When we finish the year, I want them to be better people. I think wins and losses will take care of themselves. If we continue to do that, continue to be good teammates and continue to build our culture and our program, the rest will take care of itself. As long as they are working every day to be a better teammate and make the person to the right and left of them better as a person on and off the softball field, I think we are going to end out on top.”

Season Opener

Appalachian will open up the spring season at the Jacksonville River City Leadoff and face their first opponent, Jacksonville University, at the Debbie & Fred Pruitt Softball Complex on Friday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m.

— appstatesports.com —

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