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Tigers must overcome loss of Davies, Pfeiffer to regain Ivy championship

For three years the softball team owned the Ivy League Championship. And now the Tigers want it back.

In 1994, 1995 and 1996, Princeton won the Ivy League Championship. In 1995, the Tigers became the first Ivy team in history to reach the Women's College World Series, and they earned a return trip one WCWS later.

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But last year, despite a talented team which included three All-Ivy selections and boasted the lowest earned run average in the league, Princeton fell short, finishing second behind Brown.

No guarantees

"All the talent in the world doesn't guarantee wins," said head coach Cindy Cohen, who is entering her 17th season with the Tigers.

Princeton's goal for the 1998 season is clear: take back the Ivy Championship and then make a run into the WCWS, challenging for the national title.

"We have something to say about what happened last year," junior outfielder Wendy Herm said. "Our first goal is the Ivy League (title), but we have expectations beyond that as well."

Working towards a successful postseason will mean compensating for the graduation of six seniors, all of whom made significant contributions. That group includes first baseman Mandy Pfeiffer '97, a four-time All-Ivy selection who ranks as Princeton's all-time leader in RBI, extra-base hits and doubles.

But the Tigers still have plenty of experience on the roster. Junior pitcher Lynn Miller, who led the team in wins (15) and ERA (1.77) and earned first team All-Ivy honors, will be called upon to move into the top starting spot. Senior Bevin Keenen, Princeton's leading home run hitter last season, and Herm should continue to play a pivotal role in the outfield. Junior shortstop Tanya Hendricks posted a .932 fielding percentage in 1997 and will be a significant defensive asset.

New blood

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Princeton's attack will be boosted by an influx of six freshmen.

"(The freshmen) can all hit, and you can never score enough runs," Cohen said.

Although several of the younger Tigers, including outfielder Carrie Breslin and infielder Amanda Haynes, are presently sidelined by injuries, every freshman will compete for serious playing time.

"During the fall the freshmen carried our offense," Hendricks said. "At the plate we have big hitters in the freshman class."

Good combination

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"We have enough experience and leadership and enough youth and excitement," Herm said. "Everyone is excited to step into a starting role and contribute."

With several players competing for positions, Cohen will try more than one starting lineup when the Tigers face their first competition of the year at the Maryland Tournament in College Park, Md. Saturday and Sunday. Princeton will challenge Mary-land, Drexel and Maryland-Baltimore County.

"Everyone is really stepping up and doing the best they can in whatever position they're playing," Keenen said. "Everyone's vying for playing time and we have a lot more depth."

Princeton split with Drexel last season and looks to avenge that loss. Maryland, however, should be its toughest opponent.

"Maryland should be the most challenging (opponent), but on your first day out everyone is challenging," Cohen said. "We want to be better when we leave on Sunday than when we arrived on Saturday."

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