Softball Seeks Return Trip To GNAC Tournament in 2012

Last season, Pine Manor Softball clinched a spot in the playoffs on the final day of the regular season with a doubleheader sweep of Norwich University, only to drop a tightly contested opening round game to eventual GNAC runner-up Rivier College by a 4-2 score. The 2012 edition of the Gators will be looking to make a return trip to the GNAC tournament this season, this time under the guidance of first-year head coach Ashley Bernstein.

“We want to pick up where the program left-off last season,” said Bernstein. “Right now that means taking things one game at a time and focusing on what we need to do to be successful. If we do that we will compete in every game and hopefully be back in the tournament like last season.”

Bernstein’s first task will be replacing the productivity of Third-Team All-GNAC selection Jess Kennedy and versatile infielder Michelle Campbell. Kennedy finished last season with a team-leading .375 average while starting every game in centerfield for the Gators. While, Campbell finished with a .313 average, playing in a variety of roles for the Gators and starting games at pitcher, catcher, and second base at different points during the season.

Fortunately for Pine Manor, the Gators return several key pieces from last season’s playoff team, including the starting battery of seniors Tara Doehler (Lakeville, MA) and Kayla Provost (Saco, ME). Doehler, who pitched over 150 innings while collecting 10 victories for the Gators in 2011, will likely see the majority of pitching duties for Pine Manor. She will also be joined in the circle by junior Tia Nelson (Rockport, MA), who pitched over 142 innings for the Gators as a freshman in 2010.

“It’s great for Kayla and Tara particularly in terms of chemistry,” said Bernstein. “I think that the consistency and the fact that Kayla knowing what kind of game Tara needs to throw are really important and will really benefit us.”

Provost, the team captain and a two-time All-Conference selection, will once again be called upon to play a key role for PMC both offensively and defensively. Provost collected a team-high 23 RBIs during the 2011 season, while also hitting five home runs, perhaps none more memorable than her walk-off grand slam to defeat Suffolk University in the first game of a doubleheader sweep on Saturday, April 9, 2011. Provost also finished second on the team with 30 hits in 2011, leaving her just eight shy of 100 in her career.

“Kayla is a great leader and I expect her to continue doing just that,” continued Bernstein. “We’re expecting big things from her and we hope that she can be a dominant hitter this season.”

The sweep of Suffolk came just a day before Ashley Carusone (Nashua, NH) hit another walk-off home run for the Gators to defeat Mount Ida in game one of another doubleheader sweep for the Gators.

Carsusone (left), who earned GNAC Rookie of the Week accolades following a weekend in which she hit .500 on the week going 8-16 at the plate with a double a triple and two home runs, will be asked to continue to help the Gator offense during her second season in Chestnut Hill.

“We really want Ashley to take full control of the infield,” said Bernstein. “She has tremendous range at shortstop and she is a real positive player, we expect her to take command defensively and become a leader on the team.”

Sophomore Macayla Kirylo (Pawtucket, RI) will also be called upon to be a steady contributor in the Gator line-up as she finished as the team leader in home runs, with six, and was second on the team in RBIs (19) during the 2011 season.

“We are looking for Macayla to continue to develop as a hitter this season. She put up some great numbers during her first season and we are hoping that she can continue at that pace,” said Bernstein.

Kaylyn Delgado will also be asked to replicate her numbers from her sophomore campaign, as the junior from Worcester, MA finished last season with four home runs while finishing third on the team with 16 RBIs despite missing three games due to injury.

Pine Manor will also be looking for increased production from sophomores Jamie Northup (Providence, RI) and Christine Lowe (Elmhurst, NY) as well as freshmen newcomers Samira Lopes (Boston, MA) and Samantha Jones (Springfield, MA). PMC also hopes that senior Beth Deegan, a stand-out for the lacrosse and soccer programs, will be a key addition in the Gator outfield.

Pine Manor College Softball will open its 2012 season on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 with a pair of games versus Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) opponent Saint Joseph College of Connecticut at Pine Manor Field in Chestnut Hill, MA.

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