#34 Virginia Tech Softball Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies

Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
Virginia Tech College Softball Top 44 Team Preview

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The Virginia Tech Hokies begin their 18th campaign with the only Head Coach the program has known.  Scot Thomas leads his experienced bunch into 2013 having won more than 40 games for the seventh time in team history and first time since 2008.  This veteran crew that returns most of its starting lineup, losing only two seniors from last year, fell in the Knoxville Regional to Tennessee, one win from reaching a Super Regional.  The 2012 Hokies earned wins over some quality teams including Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida State and Georgia Tech.  Coach Thomas’ club should pick up some early victories before facing a stretch of ten games that will be extremely challenging, including tilts against Long Beach State, UCLA, Arizona, Michigan and Arizona State.

2012: 42-21, 12-8
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Scot Thomas, 18th Season

Field Players:
All of Coach Thomas’ fielders come back with the exception of the catcher.  Senior Courtney Liddle returns at first base.  She was 1st Team All-ACC for the second time, and is first or second on the Hokie all-time career list in slugging, HR’s, walks, HBP and on-base percentage.  Sophomore Kylie McGoldrick started all 63 games at second base as a freshman.  Senior Bkaye Smith made the move to shortstop in 2012, fielding .969 in 54 starts.  Sophomore Kelsey Mericka earned All-ACC Tournament Team honors in 2012 at third base.  She hit .283, mashed nine home runs, driving in 45, the most on her team.  Juniors Kat Banks and Dani Anderson and sophomore Lauren Gaskill come back in the outfield.  Gaskill makes the offense go.  An All-ACC selection as a freshman, she led the team hitting .312, scored the most runs (47), delivered 59 hits, tops on the squad, hit six home runs, drove in 35, third among her teammates, walked 27 times and stole a team high 24 bases.

The Hokies will have some depth on their pitching staff in 2013.  Senior Jasmine Harrell will lead the way in the circle.  An NFCA All-Region selection, she carried the load as a junior, hurling close to 70 percent of the Hokies innings, finishing 31-16 with a 1.97 ERA.  Harrell fanned 227 and walked just 80.  Complementing Harrell will be sophomore lefty Bailey Liddle, who was the Hokies second best pitcher in 2012.  Red shirt freshman Lauren Boitnott should be improved this spring and rounding out the staff are two newcomers, freshmen Kelly Heinz and Maggie Tyler.  

Who to Watch:
JUCO All-American transfer Amanda Ake, a shortstop, hit .404 with 10 HR’s in 2012.  She led Tallahassee Community College in hits (65), runs scored (47), stolen bases (23) and slugging percentage (.652).  A talented group of freshmen is highlighted by catcher Alex Barnes.  An Ohio All-State selection as a senior, Barnes had an on-base percentage of .729 and a slugging percentage of 1.125.  She scored 28 runs, drove in 22, drew 14 walks, stole 12 bases and was hit by 15 pitches.  She left Millersport High holding school records in career home runs, home runs in a season, career stolen bases, career batting average, season batting average and hits in a career.

Final Projection:
Though the Hokies bring back most of their solid defense, they will need to improve offensively to challenge for conference supremacy or make a deep run in the post season.  The addition of Ake and Barnes could be the boost Coach Thomas’ club needs at the plate, but he will need them and his veterans to deliver regularly to improve on last year’s 42 wins.  With a little help for Harrell in the circle and marked improvement at the plate, look for Virginia Tech to be among the top teams in the ACC and reach the NCAA post season again.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Betty Rose, C, 158
Hits: Dani Anderson, OF, 58
Home Runs: Betty Rose, C, 12
RBIs: Betty Rose, C, 45
Runs: Kat Banks, OF, 38
Stolen Bases:  Kat Bank, OF, 24

Wins:  Jasmin Harrell, P, 18
Innings Pitched:  Jasmin Harrell, P, 167
Strikeouts:  Jasmin Harrell, P, 149
Saves: Jasmin Harrell, P, 2

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#95 Kelly Heinz


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