Rookies Shine in Fastpitch Fall Ball Debut
If the uniform selection had any bearing on Sunday's performance, the Stetson softball team might consider wearing pink jerseys all season long.
The Hatters concluded their first week of fall ball practice with a resounding 20-1 victory in 14 innings over Seminole State College Sunday afternoon in front of a large crowd at Patricia Wilson Field.
Stetson received big offensive performances from several of their freshmen. Jessica Griffin went 5-for-7 with three singles, two doubles, five RBI, and was on base six times. Morgan Hatch hit two of the Hatters four home runs on the day and added a single and a double. Brittany Hawn legged out a triple and drove in a run.
"After five days of practice I thought we performed pretty well today," Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. "Jessica Griffin was very impressive, and I thought Morgan had a good day at the plate with two bombs. Kalya (Drury) had a couple of 'atem' balls but she hit the ball well. I thought Brittany had a really good day offensively, she showed some good baserunning skills and sliding skills."
The Hatters also performed well in the circle, as Meredith Owen and Taylor Cochran each pitched five innings and Courtney Brandt worked the final four.
"All three of our pitchers did an outstanding job," coach Griffin said. "I was a little concerned about Courtney coming off knee surgery in both knees, but she showed no signs of weakness whatsoever. Taylor's ball was moving well and Meredith had a good day. It's going to be really good if we get Sarah (Read) back in the ballgame and have a staff four pitchers deep."
In addition to the two solo home runs by Hatch, Owen hit a two-run home run and Chelsea Whalley hit a solo shot for the Hatters.
"I was really, really impressed with the hitters today, everyone went up there with an aggressive mentality," Whalley said. "In years past we have come out a little timid at the start and the pitchers dominate, but today we proved that wrong and we all came out with a hitters mentality. And our freshmen stepped up, we had really big days from Jess and Morgan. Kayla had some good hits, and it's really impressive to see them so comfortable at the plate."
After being held scoreless through the first three innings, the Hatters went on an offensive tear, scoring in every inning from the fourth through the 10th. Chrissy Morello and Griffin helped get the offense going as the duo combined for three RBI each in both the fourth and fifth innings. Morello finished the day with four RBI.
"I was just excited to be out here playing again, and it is just icing on the cake to be doing well," Jessica Griffin said. "It was cool to see everyone out here playing as a team for the first time. We hit four home runs, and Morgan hit two of them, and that was awesome to see."
Griffin also started behind the plate and caught all five of Owen's innings in the circle.
"Meredith did awesome today, she was right on target all the time," Griffin said. "We had really good communication and it was a good chance for both of us to get to know each other."
Despite losing three starting infielders to graduation, the Hatters staffed their infield Sunday with three freshmen and a sophomore through the first 10 innings.
"The future is bright with this infield," coach Griffin said. "They are very athletic, they understand the game, and I think they are young but they are going to be just fine."
The Hatters will have to wait two weeks before their next fall game, Nov. 2 against Daytona State. But Coach Griffin has some plans on what the team will be working on in practice.
"I saw some flaws at the plate in our swings that I think we can tweak. I saw some flaws in our baserunning like not getting back to the base aggressively. We definitely have some things we need to work on."
The Hatters wore their pink uniforms in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month.