ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) – The final installment of UCFAthletics.com's season preview with head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie of the 2013 UCF softball season focuses on the outfielders.
“Our outfield is really wide open this year. We had two players (Vanessa Perez and Tawny Swan) that started every game last year in center and right field that graduated. Plus our opening-day left fielder (Kahley Novak) is now moved full-time to the infield, Luers-Gillispie said. “We’re going to have three brand new starters and we have six or seven players competing for those spots.”
“Maddy (Schroeder) has experience and should lock down center with her athletic ability,” Luers-Gillispie continued. “Mariah (Garcia) is a strong freshman and she is giving us a lot of range in left field plus her bat is top notch. Lauren (Aldridge) and Hailey (Barraco) have game experience and they are using that seniority to really lead all these young players, but they are both looking to play and as well. Brittanne (Gasser) has a bat that plays and we want to get in the lineup. Taylor (Wagner) is very versatile and she has taken the steps she needs to get more reps and more playing time.”
“We feel terrible that Blaire (Kelley) has had a second-consecutive season wiped out because of an injury, but she is such a great leader. Despite her knee injury, she's helping push her teammates every day and she's fighting to get everyone back to the NCAA tournament.”
-Fr. Mariah Garcia – A highly-regarded recruit out of Houston, who can play all three outfield spots and should provide a consistent bat in the lineup. She was the Knights’ top hitter in fall ball.
-So. Madeline Schroeder – Expected to see major playing time at one or more of the three spots after making 25 starts in left field last season. She is one of the most athletic players on the team.
-Sr. Lauren Aldridge – Used as the Knights’ primary pinch runner in 2012. She was a perfect 8-for-8 in steal attempts.
-Sr. Hailey Barraco – Saw action in 32 games last season primarily in left field and at designated player. She made three starts last year.
-Fr. Brittanne Gasser – A big hitter out of Virginia, expected to compete for action at both corner spots as well as see some work behind the plate.
-Fr. Taylor Wagner – Another versatile and athletic freshman out of Bartow, Fla. She is competing for playing time at both corner outfield spots.
-So. Blaire Kelley – Will miss the entire 2013 season after tearing ACL in the fall.