Head coach Van Zanic heads into his 13th year with more uncertainty than ever. “Last year we had a veteran team with Ashley Davis and Christina Fuqua down the middle. This year the old softball phrase, ‘you are only as strong as you are up the middle’ works against us as everyone will be new besides our pitcher, Samantha Johnson,” explained Zanic.
Despite the old phrase going against the Golden Tornadoes Zanic summed up, “There is no doubt there will be an internal competition during the first number of weeks this season and that’s exciting.”
“We like high expectations because that’s what we have built.”
Four impact freshmen will be continuing the Softball GTs high expectations: Megan Davis (Beaver Falls, PA/Blackhawk) and Hannah Logan (Pittsburgh, PA/Avonworth) at catcher, Harley Rickards (Harrington, DE/Milford) in the outfield, and Laura Innocenzi (Cortland, OH/Lakeview) at second base. In addition to the four freshman, transfer Witney Thompson (Mt. Pleasant, PA/Mt. Pleasant/Westmoreland County Community College) will premier as a first year Golden Tornado and will play the infield.
“In her last game during the last season at WCCC she tore her ACL," Zanic said. "She has been described to me as “dynamic” but I haven’t gotten to see it with my own eyes yet.”
Teaching the newcomers their winning ways include returners junior Sam Johnson (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional) and senior Andrea Hinds (Montrose, PA/Montrose) at the mound, junior Laura Beck (Canfield, OH/Canfield) on first base, sophomore Lucia Fee (Wampum, PA/Mohawk) at third and junior Dayna Hicks (Beaver Falls, PA/Blackhawk), junior Taylor Yarletts (Wampum, PA/Mohawk) and sophomore Clara Sevy (Sykeville, MD/Chapelgate Christian) all returning with significant time in the outfield.
Pitcher Sam Johnson finished the 2014 season 19-10 pitching 2.39 ERA after 193 innings, striking out 117 batters. Laura Beck led the returners in the box last season with a .357 batting average. Fee also returns as one of the GT’s hitters in 2014. Fee batted .279 in 129 at bats.
Geneva’s lone senior, Andrea Hinds, is the second captain coach Zanic has ever named. “I cannot speak more highly about her and her leadership skills,” says Zanic. Hinds averaged .272 while at bat last year and relieved Johnson on the mound obtaining a 2.83 ERA.
The Golden Tornadoes return to Fort Myers, Florida to compete in the Gene Cusic Classic after traveling to other towns in Florida over the last number of years. “Since we are one of the few in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) with a returning pitcher, despite our youth, we will play a very competitive schedule down in Fort Myers and return up north with a bull eye on our back.”
The Golden Tornadoes open up their season on Monday, March 9 at 1 p.m. against Wilmington College.