The Middlebury softball team welcomes back five of its top-seven hitters from the 2018 lineup, as the team finished with a 20-11 mark and advanced to the NESCAC Tournament. The team not only had a successful campaign on the field, but in the classroom as well. Seven Panthers were recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) for having a grade point average of 3.50 or better through the spring season, while three players earned NESCAC All-Academic accolades with a minimum of 3.40 GPA.
Headed into the 2019 season, head coach Kelly Bevere enters her 13th year and welcomes back experience throughout the lineup. Bevere owns more wins than any softball coach in school history with a 245-157-1 (.609) mark.
A season ago, the Panthers smacked 18 home runs, good for second in the program's history, to go along with 60 doubles, 11 triples, 92 walks and a .312 team batting average.
The Panther infield returns experience around the diamond in 2019, led by senior captains Liza Tarr and Ally Doll. Last spring, Tarr hit .273 at the plate with six doubles and 13 runs batted in. Behind the plate, she produced a .957 fielding percentage. Doll returns after missing all of last season due to injury and will transition from the catcher position to the infield.
Junior Olivia Bravo, along with sophomores Emily Moore and Kaylee Gumm, were key pieces last spring. Bravo was tied for the team in stolen bases (5) and was second in runs scored (25), doubles (8), batting average (.386) and hits (34), while playing mainly at shortstop.
Moore will see time at both first base and behind the plate, and she can also serve as the designated player. She posted a .337 batting average during her first spring with a team-best five triples to go along with seven doubles. Moore smacked three home runs, tying her for second on the team, while recording 28 RBI and a .640 slugging percentage, both good for second on the squad.
Gumm will look for playing time at the corner infield positions. She tallied three homers, five doubles and 18 RBI in her first season.
In the outfield, junior Melanie Mandell returns to the lineup. Recently named to the NFCA's Division III National Player of the Year Watch List, she is a two-time all-region and All-NESCAC selection, including first-team honors in both a season ago. Mandell led the Panthers and was fourth in the NESCAC with a .414 batting average. She belted a single-season record seven home runs and added 15 doubles, which tied her for second most in program history. Mandell tied three single-game marks in 2018 for doubles (3), home runs (2) and runs batted in (6). Defensively, she boasted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and led the team with six outfield assists in right field. In just two seasons, Mandell is already tied for third on Middlebury's career list for home runs with 10 and is tied for fifth in doubles with 27.
Sophomore Clare Tipler looks to come back from an injury that sidelined her much of the 2018 season. She will be utilized primarily as a pinch runner for the Panthers this spring.
With the loss of two starters from last spring, including one that has her name found throughout the record books, the Panther pitching staff will be led by senior captain Irene Margiotta. She appeared in 10 games last spring with seven starts, posting a 2-1 record and a pair of complete games with 31.2 innings. She struck out 27 batters and walked 11 while posting a 3.54 ERA.
The Panthers open their season on March 16 with a doubleheader at New Rochelle, followed by a twinbill at Drew the next day. Middlebury will make its annual trek to Clermont, Florida for its spring trip. After eight games down south, the Panthers return to New England for an in-state doubleheader against Northern Vermont-Johnson on March 30. Middlebury will host Amherst to conclude the regular season in a three-game NESCAC West series as well as Williams in the beginning of April, while visiting Wesleyan and Hamilton.