This season, the team is built differently but the goal is the same: reach the playoffs.
"Softball is tough. Six out of 10 get [into the playoffs] and there's probably eight teams [this year] that have the talent to get in," head coach Tony Ciccarello said.
To make that goal a reality the Knights must overcome the loss of a few key players, including ace Janine Montera, who won 13 games with a 2.15 ERA and 134 strikeouts, and Megan Pogemiller who batted .340 with a team-high 5 homeruns. Nonetheless, Geneseo does return a solid core, with strong defense and a cyclical lineup being the top priorities.
In 2011, the team relied heavily on their pitching staff, namely Montera, to keep them in games. This season, however, the Knights will look to lean on the staff less, with the rest of the team picking up the slack.
"In the past we've looked to [Montera], but it's not going to be like that," Ciccarello said. "It's going to be like, here's our pitching staff, you're going to pitch and we're going to play better defense behind you and we're going to hit more for you and it's going to be a team thing."
Senior Mary Bostwick will anchor the Knights' rotation after missing nearly all of last season with an injury. The Knights don't have another pitcher that won more than three games in 2011, but Ciccarelllo said they hope that Bostwick sets the tone for the inexperienced rotation and returns to a form that won her 12 games with a 2.71 ERA back in 2010.
Senior KK Schaus remains the most important cog in Geneseo's lineup, batting third and playing shortstop. Schaus was by far the most consistent Knight at the plate in 2011, batting .409 with a .486 on-base percentage, 38 hits, 15 RBI and three homeruns. Beyond Schaus, Geneseo has a lot of potential depth with juniors Jess Steubing and Jane LePage, and also sophomore Sam Trapasso, who are all able to provide major offensive contributions.
"I have a good problem. I might have a player on the bench who could be in the line-up," Ciccarello said. "I'll just have to go with who's hot and who's not, I guess. It's a crazy thing, but it's not a bad thing. Competition is always a good thing."
Defensively, Geneseo posted a .951 fielding percentage in 2011, good enough for fourth in the conference. The goal this season, according to Ciccarello, will be to improve that even further.