Worcester, Mass. – The 2017 season of Clark University softball kicks off as it normally does down in Florida with ten contests beginning with a split doubleheader against Elms College and Eastern Nazarene on Saturday, March 4.
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Head coach Linda Wage begins her 29th season in the Clark dugout. She has amassed 440 career wins out of the third base coaches' box and has eight seasons with 20 wins or more and two season with 30 wins or more.
The Scarlet and White are extremely young this season with just four upperclassmen of the 15 student-athletes that comprise the team. Lauren Mackey (Dublin, N.H.) is the lone senior and she is joined by a trio of juniors – Leah Bodin (Andover, Vt.), Brenna Foley (Charlton, Mass.) and Sami West (Gonic, N.H.).
The Cougars welcomed four members into the program as members of the Class of 2020. Kaitlyn DeBlois (Turner, Maine), Christina Kopacz (North Grosvenordale, Conn.), Maddie Letendre (Mansfield, Mass.) and Sarah Woods (Littleton, Mass.) make up the freshman class.
The Only One
Left handed hurler Brenna Foley will return to the circle after a solid sophomore campaign where she led the team in victories (7) and spun eight complete games. One of her best performances a season ago came against Worcester State, where she tossed a complete game, four-hit shutout in the 4-0 victory over the NCAA-Tournament bound Lancers.
Holes To Fill
2016 saw the Cougars lose two mainstays in their lineup to graduation in Rachel Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.) and Alyssa Wright (Manchester, N.H.). That combination finished with 233 career hits and 13 all-time homeruns.
Hall Of Fame Genes
Freshman Maddie Letendre is the daughter of Clark Hall of Famer Lori Lengieza (Class of 1990). During her tenure with the Cougars, Lengieza was a two-sport star (field hockey, softball) and is one of just eight Clark student-athletes to be featured in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd.
Out Of The Woods
Fellow freshman Sarah Woods also comes to the Cougars with a sports connected parent. Woods' father, Keith, spent 20 seasons as a coach at nearby Groton-Dunstable. During his time with the Crusaders, Woods led them to more than 200 victories, to the state finals twice and won four Clark Tournament titles.
Lauren Mackey returns to captain this year's squad after a junior campaign that saw her hit .360, smack 13 doubles, crush three homeruns and drive in 20 runs.
Speaking of Lauren Mackey, she enters 2017 with 96 career hits and is on the verge of becoming the 21st player in school history to reach the century mark in hits.
In addition to Lauren Mackey's climb up the all-time hits ladder at Clark, she is moving up the list in career doubles. Her 13 doubles a season ago pushed her into ninth on the school's all-time list (27). Aimee Lee (1999-02) holds the program record with 42.
Sami West finished fourth in the NEWMAC in strikeouts a season ago (86) – the 7th most in a single season in school history. Coupled with her total from her first season in the circle for the Cougars, she already ranks eighth on the school's all-time list (119).
As a freshman in 2015, Sami West had 33 strikeouts and 24 walks and failed to win a game in 11 appearances. In 2016, West finished with the same amount of walks (24) but had 53 more strikeouts and won five games.
The Circle Of Trust
In her first season behind the plate Kayleigh McHugh (Pepperell, Mass.) was flawless. She handled all 177 of her opportunities without an error. Offensively, she smacked a pair of homeruns and drove in seven runs while starting all 38 games.
Here's What They Think Of You
Clark was picked to finish tenth out of ten teams in a vote of the conference coaches for the league's annual preseason poll. New England Regional Finalists WPI and MIT were ranked first and second respectively. WPI will open the season ranked 12th in the country, while MIT begins play 23rd.