Shepherd softball tries to plow new fields
SHEPHERDSTOWN — After reaching the Atlantic Region tournament with a much-experienced lineup last season, the Shepherd women’s softball team will have something of an unfamiliar look this year.
Some longtime starters that were seniors in 2019 have to be effectively replaced if the Rams are to maintain their course of being conference contenders. Gone with the core of last season’s team is also the conference where the Rams had their winning success. No more Mountain East Conference. Instead, it’s now the PSAC — Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in 2020.
The confidence-giving core of 2019 players had outfielder Kaitlyn Konopka, pitcher/outfielder Lori Sturgill, first baseman Connor Gilligan, catcher Rachel Taylor, pitcher Taylor Stocks and outfielder Morgan Cox.
There are seven players returning from a year ago, including three starters from the successes from last year. Infielders Nicole Purtell and Leann Brown and shortstop Ashley Burger return. Purtell batted .321, Burger .263 and Brown .238 for the 2019 Rams’ addition.
Catcher Lindsey Anderson, outfielder Allison Baker, first baseman Tori Seymour and designated hitter Kayla Wilt were members of last year’s team.
Outfielder Hannah Beeler, outfielder Kyle Condon and Daisy Adams are joining the others. Sarah Lamper started five times as a pitcher in 2019.
Cheyenne Van Pelt saw her pitching 2020 record dip to 0-2 with a recent loss to King (Tennessee).
The far-flung PSAC teams are divided into three different divisions for softball.
Shepherd is placed in the East Division along with West Chester (40-22 in 2019), Kutztown (36-20), Shippensburg (25-22), East Stroudsburg (26-22) and Millersville (20-31).
The other 12 conference schools are placed in two other divisions with six in the Central Division and six more in the West Division.
In its early-season games this year, Purtell, Brown and Burger were the first three hitters in Coach Marissa Leslie’s batting order. Leslie is in her third year as Shepherd’s head coach.
The Rams were 42-18 overall last season with the 42 wins being the most in school history.
This is a different league, and this season has many first-year starters attempting to plow winning furrows, the same as the 2019 team did.