2008 Softball Preview

Feb. 2, 2008

This is second in a four-part series previewing the 2008 softball season.Today's series takes a look at the Washington pitchers and catchers.

2008 Preview, Part One

The loss of All-American pitcher Danielle Lawrie for the season is a big one for the Huskies. Lawrie will miss the upcoming season while competing for the Canadian National Team as they prepare for the Beijing Olympics. The junior from Langley, British Columbia has earned All-Pac-10 honors in each of her first two seasons in the purple and gold and shattered her own school-record for strikeouts in a season when she had 457 last year.

Huskies head coach Heather Tarr is excited, though, that she will have a full staff of three pitchers for the first time in her career. Returning for her senior season is Caitlin Noble, who ranks fourth all-time at Washington in career strikeouts with 605. Joining Noble in the circle are freshman Aleah Macon and junior transfer Kelcey Cavan, who was a two-time All-Region honoree for North Idaho College the past two seasons.

'We've got a staff this year and we've not had a staff for the last three years,' said Tarr. 'We've basically been able to compete at the level that we've competed with only two pitchers and that's pretty unique.'

Noble teamed with Lawrie for the past two years, but will undoubtedly be the leader of the pitching staff this season. She has a combined 2.25 ERA and a 38-22 record in her three seasons.

'She's our senior leader,' said Tarr. 'She has steadily improved over the last few years. Having a really good freshman year coming in, then having to battle through a tough sophomore year, then coming back and making some critical adjustments with some of her pitches last year and being able to shut down some big-time teams. We are looking to Caitlin to lead us mentally, physically and emotionally in the circle because she is one of our most seasoned players.'

Macon is a power pitcher who pitched six consecutive no-hitters and a perfect game during her senior season at Upland High School in California.

'Aleah being a freshman she's going to have the ability to come in and make an immediate impact with her role. She's going to be challenged because she obviously hasn't pitched in college before, so experience-wise she is lacking in that area. But she has the talent to persevere through it.'

Cavan went 30-13 with 404 strikeouts to lead the nation last season at NIC. She led the Cardinals to back-to-back regional titles and a runner-up finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Tournament last year.

'Kelcey brings a big-time contrast because she is left handed,' commented Tarr. 'She has great movement on her ball and compliments both Caitlin and Aleah.'

Returning behind the plate for the Huskies is junior Alicia Blake, who Husky fans will remember as Alicia Matthews (she was married in December). Blake started 59 of the Huskies 61 games last year and has started a total of 106 games in her two seasons at Washington. Tarr and her staff have enough confidence in Blake that they allow her to call every pitch during a game.

'She is a seasoned veteran now,' said Tarr. 'She calls every game for us and she has the ability to use a scouting report and not become predictable and make adjustments from pitch to pitch.'

Tarr also expects sophomore Amanda Fleischman to see some time at the catching position.

'She has a tremendous amount of leadership ability and that's what you want to see in a catcher. She has some great physical tools, a great arm, and quick feet. She is continuing to develop herself as a catcher and she has very good instincts for the game.'

Looking ahead: In part three we take a look at the Husky infielders and the designated player position.

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