COLLEGE SOFTBALL

March 17, 2011

COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Cheever prepared for final season at Colby

Augusta native, Mules start season Sunday in Florida

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

After nearly four years at Colby College, Augusta's Allyson Cheever is ready to move on, at least from her undergraduate studies. She's not so sure when it comes to softball.

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GRAND FINALE: Augusta native Allyson Cheever, Colby College’s captain and third baseman, hopes to leave with a winning season as the team heads to Florida this week to begin its season Sunday with a doubleheader against Lawrence University and Western Connecticut State.

Contributed photo

click image to enlarge

GRAND FINALE: Augusta native Allyson Cheever, Colby College’s captain and third baseman, hopes to leave with a winning season as the team heads to Florida this week to begin its season Sunday with a doubleheader against Lawrence University and Western Connecticut State.

Contributed photo

COLBY SPRING SPORTS CAPSULES

Baseball

Last year: 13-16

Players to watch: Dominick Morrill (Sr., P), Brady Hesslein (So., P), Nikolas Atsalis (Jr., OF), Richard Newton (Sr., OF), Brendan Gallagher (Jr., C/OF), Jake Kramer (So., OF), Brandon Nieuw (Jr., IF), Mike Mastrocola (Jr., IF)

Outlook: The Mules return several key players from last year, including Morrill who despite a 2-5 record led the NESCAC in opponent batting average and was second in ERA (3.16). Hesslein returns as a middle reliever after posting a 2-2 record and 3.14 ERA. Atsalis batted a team-leading .446 while Newton, Gallagher, Kramer, Nieuw and Mastrocola all hit over .300.
 

Softball

Last season: 11-19

Players to watch: Alyssa Lepore (Sr., 1B), Barbara Santos (Sr., C/OF), Allyson Cheever (Sr., 3B), Alex Essman (Sr., OF), Lauren Becker (So., P), Lizzi Fort (Sr., C).

Outlook: First-team all-NESCAC selection Lepore led the conference in on-base percentage (5.19) and was second in batting average (462). She also led the Mules in RBIs (26). Santos was a second team NESCAC selection after batting .382. Becker went 6-7 with a 2.62 ERA in 80 innings and should benefit from a stronger staff this season.
 

Men’s track and field

Last season: 15th in New England Division III

Performers to watch: Dominque Kone (So., sprints), Trent Wiseman (So., pole vault), David Lowe (Sr., decathlon), John Gilboy (So., throws), Keith Love (So., jumps, hurdles)

Outlook: Kone posted the fastest Division III time in the country in 55-meter dash in the indoor season (6.34). He also won the NESCAC title in the 100. Wiseman finished fourth in the NE Open (all divisions) and holds the school record in the pole vault at 15-7. Lowe broke a school record in the decathlon at the New England Division III meet.
 

Women’s track and field

Last season: Sixth in NESCAC championships

Performers to watch: Emma Linhard (Sr., middle distance), Danielle Sheppard (Sr., jumps), Kelly Foster (Jr., throws), Amy Tortorello (So., distance), Brittney Bell (So., sprints)

Outlook: Linhard earned All-American honors while breaking school records in the 1,500 (4:31.43) and 800 (2:13.33). Sheppard placed third in the high school at the NESCAC meet and 11th at the NCAA meet. Tortorello was second in the 10,000 at the NESCAC meet, Foster was second in the discus at the league meet, and Bell broke the school record in the 400 dash in 57.58.
 

Men’s lacrosse

Last season: 18-13 (1-0 this season)

Players to watch: Craig Bunker (Sr., M), Ian Deveau (So., M), Derrik Flahive (So., M), Mark Squicciarino (Sr., M), Chris Healy (Sr., D), Greg McKillop (So., A), Scott Margolis (Jr., A).

Outlook: The Mules won their season opener against Williams under first-year coach Justin Domingos and expect a strong year. Senior midfielder Craig Bunker, a two-time all-American, makes the team go. Last year he led the nation in faceoff percentage and was first in NESCAC play in faceoffs won and ground balls per game. Darveau, NESCAC and ECAC Rookie of the Year last season scored 14 goals and had a team-leading 21 assists. Squicciarino scored 21 goals and added 10 assists while Flahive went 13-5.
 

Women’s lacrosse

Last season: 15-5 (2-0 this season)

Players to watch: Lexi Crook (Sr., D), Mary Cummings (Sr., D), Sarah Warnke (Sr., G), Claire Donegan (Jr., M), Kate Pistel (So., A), Katie Briody (Sr., A).

Outlook: The Mules, who are ranked 8th nationally, will be strong once again despite the graduation of two All-Americans.. Warnke is 40-9 in goal for her career and last year finished with career bests in goals against (.842) and save percentage (.483). She has a pair of quality defenders on front of her in Crook and Cummings. Donnegan finished with 19 goals and 25 assist while Pistel scored 28 goals and had four assists.
 

Tennis

Last season: Men 6-7, women 8-7.

Players to watch: Men, Than Moore (Jr.), Matt Mantikas (So.), Jack Bryant (Fr.), Matt Carroll (Fr.), Jason Ottomano (Fr.); Women, Katie Muto (Sr.), Katie Brezinski (Sr.), Tess Perese (Fr.).

Outlook: For the men, first-year players Bryant and Carroll played first doubles during the first semester, while Ottomano will be one of the higher singles players. For the women, Muto is back at first singles and will team up Brezinski at first doubles. Perese was at the second singles spot and Brezinski played three in Colby’s spring opener loss to MIT.

"It's kind of bittersweet," Cheever said. "I'm ready to move on, however I've been playing softball since I was 6 or 7 years old."

Cheever, who is the team's captain and third baseman, hopes to leave on a high note as the team heads to Florida this week to begin its season Sunday with a doubleheader against Lawrence University and Western Connecticut State.

With a veteran infield and senior slugger Alyssa Lepore leading a potent offense, the Mules expect to improve on last season's 11-19 record.

"I think we have the potential to be very good," Cheever said. "Our batting lineup has only gotten stronger this year."

Cheever, who batted .319 last season with eight stolen bases and 19 runs scored, will bat near the top of the order. She'll hit from the left or right side depending on the situation. She turned herself into an effective slap hitter from the left side two years ago.

"She can do quite a few things," second-year coach Kristina Katori said. "She's so versatile offensively."

Cheever's just as valuable in the field. She played third base last season for the Mules and made just two errors. That statistic is even more impressive considering how close she plays to potential bunters.

"I love playing third base," Cheever said. "I play close in to catch bunts in the air. I try to be pretty smart."

Cheever is a student of the game, and especially enjoys the small-ball aspect of softball. Katori said she's always aware of the count, the situation and what a particular hitter did the last time at bat.

"Her game knowledge is exceptional," Katori said.

Cheever, who was a co-captain last year, was a unanimous choice to be the team's lone captain this season. Among her duties were calling captain's practice last fall when coaches weren't allowed to participate.

"We tired to go at least once or twice a week," she said. "It's a lot of work but it's fun. The whole senior class leads, I don't try to take anything away from them."

A biology major with a minor in computer science, Cheever hopes to obtain a research position over the summer and eventually go to grad school. First, there's a softball season in front of her. At Cony High School she played field hockey and basketball, too, but softball was always her favorite sport.

"I like softball because every pitch there's something new," Cheever said. "And it's truly a team sport. You have to have a strong nine on the field."

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com

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