Jan. 3, 2012
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By Andrew Jennette
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - As the UCF softball players take some time off for winter break, the coaching staff is hard at work making final preparations for spring camp which begins in early January. UCFAthletics.com caught up with head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie in part three of a three-part series as she provided some insight on her expectations of this year's squad and an update on some of the key positional battles she expects when camp opens.
You aren't bringing back a single pitcher from last year's team. Do you have an idea of your top three pitchers?
Mackenzie Audas is definitely stepping in as our No. 1 starter. She did a great job this fall as a freshman and she just did some amazing things this fall that earned her that No. 1 spot for us. Our No. 2 spot will either be Ali Schmidt or Alex Hartshorn. The two of them had some injuries in the fall so they are going to battle it out for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the rotation. We also have Hailey Barraco and Blaire Kelley in the mix. We're still working on some things with both of them consistency wise, but we think they could both get some innings during the season.
Do you have an ideal number of pitchers that you would want to use in a season?
As a Division I coach, my hope is to have a pitcher in each class, senior, junior, sophomore, freshman, so when one graduates, each pitcher will move up a level and you can continue on without a lot of problems. This year is a little bit different because we don't have any sophomores on the roster and we're looking at a freshman as our No. 1 pitcher. With that though, we have to find out who can pitch in the big games and who can eat up the most innings. Mackenzie is the one we're looking for our big games. With Ali and Alex, I foresee them getting the other games and being able to come in relief and close games if necessary. Ideally, our starters will pitch all seven innings every game they go out.
Tell me about the positional battles you have going on right now. Has anyone locked up a starting position?
Natalie Land is definitely our starting shortstop. She's a senior and a leader and she's certainly earned that spot. At third base we're looking at Allie Jest who saw a lot of time there last season and Hayley Barrow who is a freshman is certainly in the mix at third. Behind the plate, we're looking at Kellie Todd, Alena Murgatroyd, Lindsay Selmer, and we're also working Hayley back there as well. So we've got four possible catchers for this season, a lot of competition there. At second base we're looking at Brooke Scott and Marissa Menendez. Marissa played first base for us last year, but she was a second baseman in high school and is excited about the possibility of moving back to second base. Also Danielle Brewer is in the mix at second base. At first base, Marissa will still be in the mix there along with Farrah Sullivan who is a freshman and Alena if she's not catching. We definitely want to keep Marissa and Alena's bats in the lineup. In centerfield we've got Kahley Novak and Vanessa Perez battling it out for the centerfield spot with the other playing left field. Madeline Schroeder is also in the mix in center and left field. Tawny Swan is likely going to be in right field and we think Lauren Aldridge can play both corner outfield spots.
With camp set to open in less than a week, what would your projected depth chart look like right now?
P: Mackenzie Audas / Ali Schmidt / Alex Hartshorn / Hailey Barraco / Blaire Kelley
1B: Farrah Sullivan / Marissa Menendez / Alena Murgatroyd / Danielle Brewer
2B: Marissa Menendez / Brooke Scott / Danielle Brewer / Kahley Novak
SS: Natalie Land / Brooke Scott / Alena Murgatroyd / Kahley Novak
3B: Hayley Barrow / Allie Jest / Alena Murgatroyd / Farrah Sullivan
RF: Tawny Swan / Lauren Aldridge / Madeline Schroeder / Hailey Barraco
CF: Kahley Novak / Vanessa Perez / Madeline Schroeder
LF: Vanessa Perez / Kahley Novak / Lauren Aldridge
DH: Alena Murgatroyd / Allie Jest / Brooke Scott / Kellie Todd