The 2016 Franklin & Marshall softball team recorded a 4-0 start and a 10-4 record in the first two weeks of play to finish 20-16 on the year, marking the third consecutive season, and fourth time in six seasons, that the Diplomats have reached the 20-win plateau. F&M finished with a conference record of 7-9, and remained in contention for the Centennial Conference (CC) Playoffs into the final week of the season, but ultimately fell just short.
Doubleheader sweeps of Gallaudet (March 6) and Mary Washington (March 12) kickstarted the Diplomats' season with four straight wins for the first time since 2003. Victories over Hamilton, Lesley, Skidmore and Utica during spring break action in Kissimmee, Fla. gave F&M a 4-2 mark in the Sunshine State and continued the strong start to the season. Stiff competition in the Centennial provided numerous highlights, including a three-game win streak over April 16-17 and a dramatic 3-2 victory over Muhlenberg in extra innings of the season finale on April 30.
Erin Russell '18 was one of two Diplomats named to the All-CC First Team, selected as the conference's best catcher after leading the Diplomats in batting average (.351) and on-base percentage (.406). The sophomore also ranked second on the team in hits with 34 and collected 16 RBIs to go along with a fielding percentage of .976 behind the plate. Taylor Long '19 joined Russell on the first team as the utility player, ranking second on F&M with a slugging percentage of .535 and third in batting average (.338) and on-base percentage (.392).
Sam Burns '18 and Samantha Clemens '19 earned All-CC recognition as well, landing on the second team. Burns led F&M with a .607 slugging percentage, good for fourth in the conference, while her five home runs paced the Diplomats and tied her for fifth in the CC. Clemens led F&M with 41 hits and ranked second with a .339 average to go along with eight doubles and five triples, both of which were team highs.
Head coach Mike Cooperstein reached a milestone of his own, becoming the winningest coach in F&M history after nine seasons at the helm. A pair of victories over Lancaster Bible College on March 22 gave him his 144th and 145th wins, pushing him past Ray Oswald, who was in charge of the Diplomats from 1984-93.
F&M's young squad, featuring 12 underclassmen, will look to overcome the loss of its lone senior Patricia Crigler '16 and reach to the conference playoffs next season.