GREENPORT — A solid core of returnees has Columbia-Greene Community College softball coach Peter Dedrick optimistic about the 2019 season.
The Twins posted a 17-15 record a year and gave perennial power Herkimer a scare in the Region III playoffs before dropping a 4-3 decision.
Dedrick feels building off of last season’s success is a strong possibility, based in large part on the veteran talent he has on the roster.
“Sophomores always play a big role on our team,” Dedrick said. “We have five sophomores that bring experience and are all battle tested. They bring a lot of our offense back and combined for 17 home runs, 130 RBI last season. Kaylee Hoffman is coming off a huge year who was named All-Region along with All-Conference last year. Baylee Cox was All-Conference and looks to have a big year ahead as well.
“Justine Albin will play a big role in the offense and key part on defense as our catcher. Sydney Spohler battled injuries last year but played a heck of a third base, where she will play this year as well. Jaci Gehring will play outfield for us and bring a great glove and bat to the team.”
Hoffman, a Hudson High graduate, led the Twins in three categories last year, belting seven home runs, knocking in 33 runs and collecting four triples. She also had a .352 batting average.
Cox also adapted well to the college game as a freshman, slugging four home runs, driving in 24 runs, compiling a team-high .389 batting average and leading the team in stolen bases with six.
Gehring batted .353 and had four home runs and 23 RBI, Albin had two homers, 30 RBI and a .381 batting average and Sydney Spohler knocked in 20 runs and batted .329.
Along with the veteran talent on hand, Dedrick brought in another impressive freshman class, including Jenna Poulsen (Cairo-Durham), Holly Kleinmeier (Cairo-Durham), Hailey Beaumont (Hudson), Kelsey Taylor (Catskill), Claire Filak (Saugerties) and Hannah Mawyin (Saugerties).
Dedrick likes what he’s seen from the newcomers.
“We didn’t get many fall ball games in this year, but the ones we did play I was very impressed with our freshman,” Dedrick said. “Jenna Poulsen is a very skilled freshman who can swing it and has a ton of upside. Holly Kleinmeier provides a lot of pop to the lineup and will hit in the middle of our lineup. Claire Filak is a very skilled middle infielder, so I’m excited to see her and Baylee in the middle of our defense.
“Hannah Mawyin and Kelsey Taylor will play first base for us and bring offense and defense to the table. Hailey Beaumont brings much needed speed to our lineup and our outfield defense. She will play a big role for us in all aspects.”
One area that needed to be addressed in the offseason was pitching, after the departure of last year’s No. 1 starter Rachel Nielsen, but Dedrick feels the team will be in good hands with the return of last year’s No. 2, Hoffman, and newcomers Filak and Kleinmeier.
“Rachel had a great year for us and will be missed,” Dedrick said. “It’s always tough to replace a pitcher like Rachel. We have three pitchers that will take the mound for us this year. Returner Kaylee Hoffman who had five wins last year including wins against some of the top teams in the region will bring experience.
Hoffman finished with a 5-3 record and a 5.03 earned run average last season, allowing 63 hits and 46 runs (35 earned) in 48.2 innings, with 32 strikeouts and 21 walks.
“Freshman Claire Filak will also see plenty of time on the mound,” Dedrick said. “Claire has a great feel on the mound and I look for her to do well. Closing out our pitching staff is Holly Kleinmeier. She has raw potential on the mound and we’ve been working with her. She has some electric stuff and now it’s just some minor adjustments. I’m excited to see her out there for us.”
Based on the talent on hand, Dedrick sees no reason to exepct a drop-off in victories for the Twins.
“Every year we always put the expectations high and we have a high standard,” Dedrick said. “Our region is extremely tough, but I feel like we can go into any game and come out with a victory. Obviously, we need to play well but I feel like the team is up for the challenge. Our schedule once again is very tough. It will definitely show us what we are made of.”
Standing in the Twins way again will be Herkimer, but Dedrick says the team will cross that bridge later. In the meantime, he’s excited to get the season started.
“Last year’s regional game against Herkimer was a great one,” Dedrick said. “Herkimer is a very talented team and well coached. Honestly I’m just worrying about us this year and taking one game at a time. If we get to the postseason and match up with Herkimer I’ll worry about them then. It should be a fun season and we’ve put in a lot of work. We are just excited to get games started and see where it goes.”
The Twins are slated to open up at home on Sunday with a non-conference doubleheader against Bergen Community College, starting at noon. Their first Region III game is scheduled for Thursday, March 28, at home, against Hudson Valley Community College.