LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall opens its 2016 campaign on Sunday by visiting Gallaudet for games at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. The following weekend the Diplomats visit Mary Washington on March 12 and Randolph-Macon on March 13 before continuing south to Kissimmee, Fla. for six games between March 15-17.
To watch the 2016 F&M softball season preview video, click here.
F&M returns all position players and the No. 1 starter from a team that finished the 2015 season 23-11 with a 9-7 record in the Centennial Conference (CC). The 23 wins marked the third time in five years that the Diplomats reached 20 wins, but F&M narrowly missed out on the conference playoffs after finishing in fifth place.
Justine Lohrey was the only senior lost to graduation at the end of last year. Selected as an all-conference pitcher after her junior year, she finished last season with a 7-2 record and 63 1/3 innings pitched. Head coach Michael Cooperstein will depend on increased production from the rest of the pitching staff to fill the gap left by her departure.
This year's roster features only three upperclassmen with one senior and two juniors. However, it is also a squad with an abundance of experience as the eight-member sophomore class saw plenty of action last year as freshmen. The returning players are joined by four newcomers and look to break into the starting lineup.
Isabel Schaefer – So. - P
Melissa Bollmeyer – So. - INF
Patricia Crigler – Sr. – OF/C
Megan Ryan – Jr. – INF/P
Katie Wenger – So. – P/INF
Schaefer returns after a freshman campaign that saw her lead the F&M pitching staff and earn All-CC Second Team recognition. The sophomore also set single-season program records for strikeouts (113) and shutouts (6) while accumulating an 11-8 record and 1.91 ERA in her first season.
Bollmeyer was also named Second Team All-CC a year ago after leading the Diplomats in batting average (.373), hits (38), triples (3), walks (19), stolen bases (14), runs scored (31), and on-base percentage (.475). Her 17 RBIs ranked fourth on the team, while her slugging percentage of .471 was good for third on the squad.
Crigler returns for her senior season, and is again set to lead the Diplomat offense. Last season she paced the team in slugging percentage (.477) and doubles (11), and was second in batting average (.336) and hits (36). She also ranked in the top five in on-base percentage, triples, RBIs, walks, and numerous other offensive categories.
Ryan will again put her versatility to use this season. The junior hammered three home runs to lead the team last year, while her nine doubles and .472 slugging percentage were both good for second on the squad. In the circle, Ryan put together a 3-1 record with 15 strikeouts in 23.2 innings of work.
Wenger will also contribute on the pitching staff and in the batting order. As a freshman she was tied for second on the team with two home runs and tied for third in batting average at .327. She will look to make her mark in the rotation after injuries limited her to just five appearances last year.
The Road Ahead
F&M will face tough competition in Kissimmee, including a March 17 matchup with a Cortland St. team that hosted NCAA Regional competition last season. Other key non-conference games include a doubleheader with York on April 5 and a twin bill with Kings on April 21.
The CC schedule begins on March 26 when the Diplomats travel to Washington, while the conference home opener is on April 2 when McDaniel comes to town for a pair of contests.