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Brandywine Softball: 2016 Preview 

Freshman Grace DeRosa deals on the mound.

Brian Bosco, Lions Eye Editor,

The Penn State Brandywine softball team is returning to defend its championship title in the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC).

In just their second season as a varsity program, head coach Mark Caserta led Brandywine to a 23-12 record and its first PSUAC championship.  The Brandywine Lady Lions won all 18 of their games against league competition, while outscoring opponents 220-51 during those contests.  The women are eager to show the league they can do it again.

This season there will be six returning players, two of whom were named All-Americans as freshman.  The All-American duo of Katie DeStefano and Katy Steffen helped lead the team to the championship last season, and they look to forward to everyone gunning for them as Caserta said.

DeStefano was also PSUAC Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year for 2015, with seven starts against league competition, and posted a perfect 7-0 record with a 1.02 earned run average and 54 strikeouts in 41.0 innings.  On the offensive side of the All-American duo is Steffen.  The first baseman registered a team best eight home runs, 51 RBI, and had a batting average of .377 with 24 extra-base hits.  The two have been working hard to be even better this year, and will help elevate their overall team play.

Entering the 2016 season, the Lady Lions are down seven players from 2015.  Last year’s starting shortstop and centerfielder, players named USCAA All-Americans, did not return to the team this year because of personal issues.  This has created some question marks in the lineup.

However, the Lady Lions welcomed seven new players, including two pitchers who are dedicated to help out DeStefano.  Having multiple pitchers with different strengths is another asset this team has lacked in years past.  Each of the seven players brought in are hoping to make a positive impact on the starting lineup.

“One of the strengths of this year’s team is going to be how versatile each player is,” Caserta said.  “There will be lots of options for me as each position will be interchangeable.”

Key matchups for the Lady Lions include conference games against Hazelton and Schuylkill.  Penn State Hazleton won the championship in 2014 and gave Brandywine a run for its money in the playoffs last season.  Penn State Schuylkill will also be a matchup that will be tough as they qualified for the national United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) tournament last season.
Caserta had some interesting insight as to how a softball season can go.

“Every year could be different, one year a team could be bad, but the next they could have a pitcher that could turn the whole team around,” Caserta said.

All-in-all, the 2016 Brandywine softball team will be a force to be reckoned with.  Having a great core of upperclassman leadership, along with adding dedicated freshman, will help this team have the depth they need to go all the way.  These women are seeking a championship from pitch number one.

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