2008 Softball Preview
Jan. 28, 2008
This is the first in a four-part series previewing the 2008 softball season.
16 straight NCAA Tournament Appearances. Fourth-best all-time.
Eight Women's College World Series Appearances. Tied for fifth-best all-time.
60 NCAA Tournament victories. Fifth-best all-time.
As evidenced by the numbers above, winning is something that has become synonymous with the Washington Husky softball program. The tradition that is Husky softball has been carried on under the guidance of head coach Heather Tarr. Last season, in just her third year on the job, Tarr was able to take her team back to the Women's College World Series for the first time since 2004. Even with the loss of some key players, Tarr believes the Huskies have the talent to make a repeat appearance in the World Series.
On the surface it appears the Huskies may have lost too much talent from a year ago to make another deep run in the postseason. There are big shoes to fill with the loss of seniors Dominique Lastrapes and Dena Tyson, both of whom were All-Americans during their career, coupled with the fact that pitching ace, and First Team All-American, Danielle Lawrie will miss the 2008 season while competing for the Canadian National Team.
Yet, Washington does bring back senior All-American infielder Ashley Charters, as well as senior OF/1B Lauren Greer and junior outfielder Marnie Koziol, who were both Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 picks last season. Also back are senior pitcher Caitlin Noble and junior catcher Alicia Blake, who both bring a wealth of experience to a young Husky squad.
'We've graduated a lot of talent, and with Danielle Lawrie redshirting for the year there is a lot of opportunity for our young players to come in and fill some big shoes,' said Tarr.
'I think you can look at it in two ways. You can have a glass is half empty attitude and say, `Oh my gosh, look at what we lost.' Or you can have a glass is half full attitude and say, `Wow, there is a bunch of sophomores this year that didn't get much of a chance to play last year and want to come in and make an impact.' There are some capable, young players that are going to come in and surprise some people.'
Tarr feels her team will have to overcome small battles and continue to improve from the beginning of the year until seasons end for them to reach the WCWS for the second straight year.
No matter what, some new players will be counted for big things during the 2008 season with only four starters back (Blake, Charters, Greer and Koziol). Juniors Dani Stuart (3B) and Ashlyn Watson (DP/1B) both started at some point during last year and will have increased roles this season, as will sophomores Amanda Fleischman (C/OF), Alyson McWherter (OF) and Bailey Stenson (OF).
Tarr and her staff welcome six new players to the team, including a crop of four freshman that could have an immediate impact. Freshman P/1B Aleah Macon showed during the fall season that she has a powerful arm in the circle and could be a force for the Huskies. Two more freshman, shortstop Morgan Stuart and third baseman Jace Williams, showed flashes of brilliance in the fall and will compete for starting spots.
Looking ahead: In part two we take a look at the Husky pitchers and catchers.