WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Let's just call the 2015 Williams College softball team a work in progress.
And coach Kris Herman, back for her 12th season, has a lot of talent to work with, beginning with a talented senior class that includes co-captains Emma Harrington and Mo Frank in addition to Emalie Rott and Lindsey Precht.
As juniors, that class helped the Ephs go 25-13 in 2014, win the NESCAC West and host both the NESCAC Tournament and a Div. III NCAA Regional, the latter for the first time in program history.
"I feel like we have a strong team talent-wise," Herman said. "And a lot of our players can play multiple positions, which is great but can also be challenging. I would like to think in the first two days — we have three games — everybody will start. There's no doubt in my mind everyone on the roster is going to help us win a game this season."
Last year, the Ephs had a 3.01 team earned run average and the three pitchers who tossed the most innings are all back, including First Team All-Region and Conference hurler Harrington, who finished 13-8 with a 2.12 ERA in 125 innings pitched. Sophomore Brooke Bovier also returns with a season of experience that saw her finish 10-4 with a 2.92 ERA. The aforementioned Rott has recovered from an off-season surgery and has looked impressive in preseason, according to Herman.
"Emma's our No. 1," Herman noted. "She's a great pitcher and her breadth of pitches has really grown, plus she is one of the hardest working players I've coached in terms of working on her mechanics. We're expecting big things from her.
"Both Brooke and Emalie are going to play a big role for us," Herman continued. "Brooke has really matured as a pitcher after only one year, and Emalie has improved a lot. I've been impressed with how hard she's worked to come back. Another plus is all three of them are different from one another."
"All three of our catchers are excellent blockers and all three have strong arms," Herman said.
Frank will be part of the mix in the outfield. Last year in limited action she hit .319 with 3 doubles, 2 triples and a .395 on-base percentage.
Williams batted .300 as a team last season and gets back four of its five regulars back who hit .300 or better. That starts with sophomore Alison Michalik, who has a lock on the starting shortstop job. She hit .346 as a first year, slugged .495 and swiped 6 bases, second on the squad.
Junior Priscilla Pino hit a robust .340 with team highs in doubles (9), homers (3) and slugging percentage (.520). She was also second with 25 RBI and will see time in the outfield or at DH. Junior Erica Li has a bead on a job in center or left this season after hitting .317 as a sophomore. She scored 31 runs, second on the Ephs, and stole 9 bases, most on the team.
Junior Kacey Cramer will likely start at third base after handling the hot corner nearly every game in 2014. She hit .281 with 6 doubles and 21 RBI.
The remaining juniors include Melissa Cendejas, who will be giving a shot at the first base job; Tayler Donze, who will vie for time in the outfield or possibly third base, and Amanda Siedem, a transfer from Rollins College who will battle for time in the outfield.
The rest of the sophomores include Ashley Wirth and Dana Cohen. With has a shot at designated hitter or the outfield and Cohen can pitch. The remaining first year is Breanna Martinez, who will work out at second base in the hopes of replacing 2014 co-captain Theresa Legan, who is now in her first year as Herman's assistant coach.
"I think we have 14 kids who can hit," Herman said. "All the returning players have improved as offensive weapons and all of our rookies are good hitters coming in, so that's exciting. Fundamental defense will be the key for us and we need to improve in that area, but I am confident we will."
Williams opens its season Sunday with a doubleheader at Occidental in Los Angeles, California. First pitch is 12 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.