UMaine softball team seeking improvement

Posted March 14, 2012, at 4:53 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Lynn Coutts knows she has a lot of work to do.

But the first-year University of Maine softball coach said despite her team’s 5-16 record during its trips to Florida and California, there have been a lot of positives.

“Everybody gets along. I haven’t seen anything but positive energy,” said Coutts, who also received some impressive performances from three freshmen: catcher Emj Fogel, second baseman Kristen Koslosky and third baseman Nikki Byron.

Fogel hit .346 with three doubles, a team-high 18 hits and five runs batted in; Koslosky hit .244, scored a team-high eight runs and made just three errors and Byron played an errorless third base in 12 games.

“Emj is full of energy and has such a positive attitude. She sees the ball well, has a pretty good swing and she’s competitive,” Coutts said. “Kristen did a very good job defensively and drew a lot of walks [team-high 16]. She’s also a bundle of energy. And Nikki did a very nice job at third.”

Coutts also received quality production from sophomore left fielder Dagmar Ralphs (.283, team-high four doubles, 17 hits, six RBIs), junior first baseman Hilary Kane (.283, 17 hits, 1 homer, 5 RBIs) and sophomore designated hitter Jean Stevens (.346, 2 homers, 5 RBIs in 26 at-bats).

But overall the Bears struggled at the plate, hitting just .221 and averaging 2.2 runs and 5.3 hits per game while striking out 5.5 times.

“We had numerous opportunities with runners in scoring position, but we didn’t come through,” Coutts said.

Coutts said the team’s lack of offensive punch put pressure on their pitchers to keep the run count down.

“The pitchers try to be perfect when they aren’t getting run support and they start aiming the ball to try to get hitters out on their own [instead of relying on their defense],” Coutts said.

Coutts said her pitching staff is “coming along.”

Senior Ashley Kelley (2-6, 3.97 ERA), junior Beth Spoehr (2-4, 5.69) and sophomore Kylee Sparks (1-6, 9.00) had their shares of up and downs.

“They’re starting to understand how to get hitters out,” Coutts said. “They’re going to be fine. We’ve got to score more runs for them.”

Coutts said she and her assistants are tweaking some of their players’ swings as they prepare to head to Hempstead, N.Y., Saturday and Sunday to play Hofstra twice and Connecticut.

She also said she is looking for leadership from her upperclassmen.

“The reality is we aren’t that good right now and we need to get better,” Coutts said.

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