BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College softball squad is ready to begin its 2018 schedule on Saturday, February 24 with a non-conference doubleheader at Gwynedd Mercy University before the team heads to Arizona for 12 games including six contests versus some of the top teams in the country in the 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Leadoff Classic the first weekend in March.
Head Coach John Byrne begins his 25th season leading the Greyhounds with 14 letterwinners and 10 starters from last year's 36-6 squad that participated in the program's 23rd straight postseason appearance.
Once again this spring, the key to Moravian's success will be in the circle where coach Byrne returns seniors Amanda Carisone and Josie Novak, who both earned All-Conference honors in 2017 with Novak being named to the NFCA All-America Second Team and Carisone adding a spot on the All-Atlantic Region Third Team. Carisone posted an 18-3 record last spring with a 1.03 ERA, three shutouts and 77 strikeouts in 128.2 innings while Novak was also 18-3 with two saves, a 0.77 ERA, 13 shutouts and 144 strikeouts in 135.2 innings of action. Sophomore Paige Lesher and freshman Meghan Bauer look to contribute innings and add depth to the staff this spring.
At the plate, senior All-Conference catcher Janae Matos returns after being named to the NFCA All-America First Team and being selected as the 2017 Diamond Sports NCAA Division III Catcher of the Year. In 2017, Matos hit .523 with 56 hits, 23 runs, 22 doubles, three homers and 45 RBIs while leading the team with 203 putouts.
The Greyhounds return four other All-Conference players in junior shortstop Kaela Kane, junior center fielder Kat Spilman, sophomore utility player Lauren Goetz and sophomore right fielder Emily Stanilious. Spilman hit .400 last season with 48 hits, 32 runs, four doubles, a triple, five home runs and 19 RBIs while Kane added 35 hits, 26 runs, four doubles, a triple, 14 RBIs and seven stolen bases. Stanilious posted a .324 average with 23 hits, 18 runs, two doubles, a triple, a homer, 10 RBIs and eight stolen bases in her debut season while Goetz added a .307 average, 27 hits, 16 runs, eight doubles, a home run and 17 RBIs.
Joining Spilman and Stanilious in the outfield are senior Jackie Marshall, junior Ashley Gindle and sophomore Samantha O'Keefe. Goetz and freshman utility player Shannon Brogan will both challenge for playing time in the outfield, the infield and as a designated player.
Coach Byrne also returns depth in the infield led by junior third baseman Madison Shaneberger, who had 18 its, 16 runs, five doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs, and senior first baseman/catcher Jean Markovic, who added 14 hits, six runs, four RBIs, a home run and seven RBIs. Junior infielder Julia DeMarco has the ability to play several positions and had eight hits, 10 runs, a double, a homer and two RBIs last spring, and the Greyhounds look for freshmen Maddisen Bieber and Maura Kane as senior Megan Taylor to challenge for playing time.
Matos will likely spend most of the season behind the play but will be given time off by Markovic and freshman Brooke Wehr, who also has the ability to see time in the infield.
Moravian enters the 2018 season as the favorite in the Landmark Conference Preseason Poll, and the squad was also ranked No. 18 in the NFCA Division III Preseason Top 25 Poll.