2008 Softball Preview
Feb. 4, 2008
This is final edition of a four-part series previewing the 2008 softball season. Today's series takes a look at the Washington outfielders and the schedule.
Junior Marnie Koziol, who hit .307 last season and .339 as a freshman in 2006, returns as the starting left fielder.
'Marnie improved tremendously over the course of the season last year,' said Washington head coach Heather Tarr. 'We expect her to maintain what she has been able to do. She is working with (volunteer assistant coach) Gina (Carbonatto) on some defensive adjustments that will only make her a better player.'
Freshman Ashley Tuiasosopo is a local product from nearby Woodinville High School who could also see action in left field.
In centerfield, sophomores Alyson McWherter or Amanda Fleischman are expected to contend for the starting spot vacated with the graduation of Jacki Hansen. McWherter saw action in 33 games last season, making 15 starts, while Fleischman played in 36 games.
'Both players will do a good job for us,' said Tarr. 'Both have very strong arms and will give us an arm that we haven't seen in our outfield for three years. Their ability to cover ground and get good reads and jumps on the ball is going to help us tremendously in the outfield.'
With the possible move of three-year starting right fielder Lauren Greer to first base, the Huskies could be looking for a new right fielder. Sophomore Bailey Stenson impressed the coaching staff during the fall season and is the likely candidate to start if Greer does indeed move to the infield.
'Bailey is a gritty, hungry softball player who wants to win,' said Tarr. 'She is going to find her way in the lineup if she keeps that attitude.'
The Huskies will once again play one of the nation's toughest schedules, and that is before they even get to Pac-10 Conference action in the last weekend of March. Washington will play in seven tournaments, six of them on the road, before hosting Oregon on March 28 to open conference play.
One of the Huskies most intriguing matchups in the preseason is against the Canadian National Team, which of course features Husky Danielle Lawrie. Washington will face Lawrie and the rest of the national team at the Sportco Spring Kick-off Classic in Las Vegas on February 9. That tournament, which runs Feb. 8-10, is the season opener for the Huskies.
Tarr has scheduled the Huskies for some of the best tournaments in the nation, including the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. (Feb. 15-17) and the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. (March 20-22). Washington will also play in tournaments in Albuquerque, N.M., Honolulu, Hawaii, and Portland, Ore., as well as host the annual Husky Softball Classic.
'Our schedule is designed to prepare us to compete in the Pac-10,' said Tarr. 'It will allow us to progress and improve from February through March so that when Pac-10 play starts we are ready to face some of the best teams in the country.'
As usual, the Pac-10 Conference will be the best in the nation. A Pac-10 school has won six of the last seven Women's College World Series titles, and 20 of the 26 titles overall. All eight Pac-10 schools were selected for the NCAA Tournament last year and Tarr says not much will change this year.
'I think the Pac-10 is going to be more balanced at the top this year like it was in 2005 when they had the four-way tie for first place. Obviously, Arizona is going to be up there. They lose a couple of key players, but they return their pitching which is huge. Arizona Stat lost nobody, Cal is going to be improved, and Stanford is going to be improved. So in general I think you're going to see a little bit more parity at the top of the conference.'
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