SHEPHERDSTOWN — The 2013 Shepherd softball team will learn about life in the WVIAC without four-year pitching standout, Tricia Bettura. Bettura was again a first-team all-conference selection in 2012 as the Lady Rams finished fourth in the league’s regular season standings.
Although the Lady Rams were quickly ousted in two games from the conference tournament, they finished with an overall record of 31-24.
Perennial conference power West Virginia Wesleyan was again the regular season champion. And the Lady Bobcats also were the tournament winners and represented the WVIAC in the NCAA, Division II Regional tournament.
Returning pitcher Tiffany Biggs, a senior who played at Jefferson High, was a second-team, all-conference selection last season and authored a 16-7 record with a 2.49 earned run average in 27 starts. She fanned 149 in her 185.1 innings of work.
Biggs is the most decorated of the returnees.
Outfielder Taylor Schaefer was also a second-team, all-conference selection a year ago. She led the team in batting with a .321 average, going 51-for-159 with a team-leading 30 RBIs. She started 54 of the team’s 55 games.
Outfielder Bianca Biondillo received “honorable mention” recognition from the league when it announced post-season honors. Biondillo hit .305, going 51-for-167, and had three home runs in her 55 starts.
Another returning starter is catcher/third baseman Savannah Snyder, who hit .294 last season, going 35-for-119 in her 39 starts.
Shortstop Jess Mason, who played at Hedgesville High, started all 55 games last season. She was 40-for-167 at the plate and finished with a .240 batting average.
Another starting infielder back from the 2012 team is Taylor Bolton. Bolton started 39 times while going 24-for-101 for a .238 batting average.
Catcher Elisa Orlandi had 34 starts and went 11-for-71 for a .155 batting mark.
Shepherd has two more players who come from the Jefferson High softball program. They are sophomore infielder Desire’ Miller and freshman outfielder/pitcher Shannon Lyons, who was a four-year starter in the outfield for Lady Cougar coach Mary Beth Vickers.
There are three freshmen listed on the 2013 roster and they are pitcher Desiree Joines from Kennard-Dale High in Pennsylvania, pitcher Hayley Kitts from Havre de Grace High in Maryland, and shortstop Kass Taylor from Huntingtown High in Maryland.
The three juniors on this team are all junior college transfers and two are on Shepherd’s team for the first time. Pitcher/infielder Tori Thompson played at Potomac State, outfielder Alysha Voytell player very sparingly last season after coming from Frederick Community College, and catcher Carly Schmidt comes in this year from Patrick Henry Community College.
Sophomore infielder Shanan Plunkett played at North Hagerstown High.
Bettura was the conference’s Pitcher of the Week on two occasions last season and then-senior Delaney Bell was once the conference’s Player of the Week.
The league’s coaches have again selected West Virginia Wesleyan to win the 2013 regular season championship. The Lady Bobcats were 43-12 overall and 20-4 in the WVIAC last season.
Another repeat for the Lady Bobcats would mean a sixth straight conference championship.
Shepherd was selected by the coaches to finish fourth.
The 2013 Shepherd season will begin at the Shaw Tournament in Raleigh with five games scheduled over three days — Friday, Feb. 15 through Sunday, Feb. 17. Shepherd will see West Chester, Shippensburg, Indiana of the PSAC, Mount Olive, and Slippery Rock if all three dates have weather enough to play softball.
Shepherd’s first home game is slated for March 2 against Bloomsburg. The Lady Rams have only 10 home dates on a proposed 51-game schedule. There are 20 games to be played on neutral fields. The WVIAC schedule calls for 26 games to be played.
Biggs is a proven pitcher coming off a 16-win season. Can Coach Leslie Lopez, in her sixth season, find another talented pitcher for the other game of the traditional conference doubleheaders?
Life without Bettura will take some getting used to. How the Lady Rams adjust could determine the path their season takes.