LANCASTER, Pa. -- Mike Cooperstein had a feeling the Centennial Conference (CC) preseason coaches poll would have Franklin & Marshall last. In fact, the Diplomats fourth-year skipper expected it.
"We're so young. We only have one senior," Cooperstein explained.
As expected when the poll was released Wednesday F&M was selected last in the nine-team conference. But the skipper isn't buying it.
"We want to win to win the Centennial Conference championship, not just make the playoffs," Cooperstein said. "We want to go to the NCAA tournament."
The Diplomats return six starters from an 8-10, (3-13 CC), 2010 season but have 12 "talented" freshmen according to Cooperstein.
Highlighting the list of returning starters is sophomore Danielle Murphy. The outfielder was an All-CC Second Team selection after an impressive rookie season where she led the team and ranked fourth in the conference with a .396 batting average. She also topped F&M in runs (26), hits (36), triples (3), and home runs (3).
Liz Chudzik returns after a .333 season at the plate and a 6-10 record on the mound. The sophomore will move from the circle to the hot corner season. Sophomore Amanda Schellaci will also see time at third.
Junior Megan Pauley, who batted .305 last season, will begin the season at second or first. Freshman Malorie Sassaman will start at second and freshmen Julie Jefferson and Ariel Givner will see time at both middle infield positions.
Freshmen Samantha Denoville and Liz Middleton will start the season a first. Middleton will also see time at third and will DH. Freshman Caitlin Brust will call shots from behind the plate with Hartshorn and Sassaman spelling her when needed.
The Diplomats begin the season this weekend with six games in Virginia Beach. F&M plays 16 games before opening the CC season March 26 hosting Washington.