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Softball looks to once again qualify for NCAA tournament

With spring fast approaching, it means the softball team will gear up for another run, and hunt for their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since the 2008 season.

After finishing middle of the pack in the league standings from last year, it’s clear that the Tigers have the chops to compete with their fellow Ivies. In order to remain competitive, however, the focus is on developing talent on the offensive end. Three of the Tigers’ top 4 scorers from last year were seniors who’ve since departed. While looking towards all their players to help fill the freshly made void, the Tigers will look to players such as senior First Base Emily Viggers and junior infielder Haley Hineman, who were second and third respectively in hits for the Tigers during the 2015 season.


As with every year, this team will be facing its fair share of road matches before returning to their home turf at 1895 Field. They kicked off the year with a 2-3 performance at the UT Arlington Tournament down in Texas, and have four straight weekends of travel to follow. The road schedule itself certainly won’t be without challenges: one of the highlights will be battling UCLA in March, a team currently ranked No. 7 in the NCAA.

While the road trips may be tough, at least the first weekend indicates a bright future for the Tigers. They’ve shown they remain loaded with talent, particularly from the freshman class. During their Arlington trip, freshman outfielder Mikayla Blaska would lead the Tigers in hits and was second in runs, with 5 and 2 respectively. Her classmate, freshman third base Kaylee Grant, led the team in runs on the weekend with 3.

“In terms of an offensive perspective, we’re already way ahead of where we were last year.” Junior pitcher Claire Klausner said. “We had a really productive senior class, but this freshman class might even be more productive.”

“On the defensive side, we have returning [upperclassmen] pitchers,” Hineman said. “From here on out, the only thing we need to work on as a team is getting the kinks out defensively, and other than that, we’re vibing this year.”

This influx of talent will certainly aid the Tigers come Ivy League play. By then, every game in itself becomes a do-or-die battle, as each team contends to represent the Ancient 8 in the NCAA Tournement. Princeton, however, will have an edge that was not present last year: hosting last year’s two top teams, Dartmouth and Harvard, at 1895 Field.

“The excitement level goes up during the Ivy League season, because there’s a tangible goal: the Ivy League championship,” Hineman said. “We’ve been playing against the same girls for a while, and it’s exciting in that sense, we want to beat them … [and] have this goal in mind.”


Indeed, with a team stocked with young guns and a strong veteran core, the Tigers look as well placed as any to contend for first come April.

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