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Bears get lone win in the Lone Star State

The women's softball team opened up the 2012 season in El Paso, Texas at the University of Texas at El Paso Invitational this weekend, where they won one game out of five after facing the University of Texas at San Antonio, UTEP, Valparaiso University and Iowa State University. In the first day of the tournament, the Bears defeated UTSA (6-9) 10-5 in their season opener and then fell to UTEP 10-2. The next day, the Bears had two losses, falling to Valparaiso 10-2 and then to UTEP again 27-5 before coming up short against Iowa State 17-3.

Bruno's first game was the highlight of the weekend, as they beat the team that would go on to finish second in the tournament.  In just three innings of play, the Bears poured on nine runs to take a 9-0 lead. Rookie pitcher Jessica Cherness '15 earned the win for the Bears on the mound, giving up five runs, striking out three batters and walking two.

In the first game against UTEP, the Bruno offense struck early in the game. Kelsey Hom '15 hit a two-RBI single to bring home Kelsey Williams '14 andTrista Chavez '15, which gave the Bears a brief 2-1 lead over the Miners. But the lead did not hold for long, as UTEP scored four runs in the third inning on its way to a 10-2 victory. In the next day's rematch, UTEP scored a staggering 15 runs in the second inning to put away any hopes for a Bruno win.

Against Valparaiso, Williams hit a double to bring home Alyssa Caplan '13 and Kate Strobel '12, driving in the sole two runs for the Bears in another 10-2 defeat.

"Unfortunately, we finished at 1-4 for the tournament, as our defense, beginning with the pitching, gave up a lot of runs," wrote Head Coach DeeDeeEnabenter-Omidiji in an email to The Herald. "In addition, our defense behind the pitching was not as solid as it needed to be either, as we had a lot of errors in those losses." 

Though it was a tough weekend for the Bears, Enabenter-Omidiji said the team is optimistic and excited about the upcoming season, with high hopes of improving upon last year's record of 14-22-1.

"Our goal is to continually improve everyday," Enabenter-Omidiji wrote. "We want to climb up the Ivy ladder overall, but take a legitimate (shot) at perennial powers Harvard and Dartmouth at the top of northern division."

The team welcomes back a mix of experienced players and rookies looking to make big contributions this season. Leading the way is captain and 2011 first team All-Ivy selection Strobel, a first baseman who started all 37 games last season. Another key player will be Stephanie Thompson '13, who led the nation last year with a .504 batting average and was a Second Team All-Ivy Selection. 

"Offensively, we hope to have a much stronger lineup from top to bottom," Enabenter-Omidiji wrote. "We don't want to have to rely on Ivy All-Stars Thompson and Strobel for our only offensive output. Defensively we hope to stay close enough in games by our pitchers exhibiting control and staying around the plate. Hopefully our defense will continue to be fundamentally sound."

The Bears have a large first-year class with seven out of 17 players joining the team from the Class of 2015. The pitching staff is completely new this year, as rookies Cherness, Sam Brady '15 and Denise Van Der Goot '15 step into the rotation. Also joining the staff is Trish Melvin '12, who is returning after missing the entire 2011 season due to injury.

Since conference games do not begin until the end of March and continue through April, the team is keen on gaining essential experience this upcoming month throughout its nonconference schedule. Last season, the Bears kicked off their Ivy play on a high note, winning both games against Penn and then splitting the Cornell and Princeton series (2-2). Overall, the Bears won eight of their 20 Ivy games played.

"We are off from games this weekend, so it will give everyone time to regroup and refocus," Enabenter-Omidiji wrote. "We are excited about getting back into the water after getting our feet wet. We've seen what (our) weaknesses are as well as our strengths."

The Bears play next March 17 and 18 at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Spring Classic in Baltimore, MD. They kick off their Ivy campaign away March 30 at Penn and March 31 at Columbia before returning home April 6 to face Cornell.


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