Things have changed for the Eastern softball team with the sudden death of Head Coach Mark Ambler, but the goal is still the same: making the MAC playoffs.
“It will be a challenge for us,” senior Karen Hertzog said. “I think we have to rise to it.”
The Eagles graduated two seniors last season and brought back a core of players, plus key first-years.
“It’s a totally new team,” Hertzog said. “Our team is mostly underclassmen. I think it is exciting to have a young team because it is a fresh attitude.”
One upperclassman that is returning for the Eagles is Alissa Brubaker. The senior shortstop led the team in hits, doubles and runs scored last season.
“I am very excited about the incoming season,” Brubaker said in an email. “The first-years that came in are all very strong and are going to bring a lot to the team.”
Excitement is in the air, but when it is time to hit the diamond, the Lady Eagles will be strictly business.
“We are going to have to communicate with each other to reach our goal of making the playoffs,” Hertzog said.
The baseball team lost a catcher and a pitcher from last season, but that has not phased the Eagles. They have put last season behind, and are eager to play ball and make a statement in the MAC.
With Head Coach Matt Midkiff entering his first season at the helm, it’s hard not to be excited for the upcoming season.
“I think entering the MAC is actually quite an opportunity for our program,” Midkiff said. “Playing in a league with the prestige of the MAC can only make us better when we make it to NCAA Tournament competition.”
Conference play heats up in the beginning of April as the Eagles have a stretch of nine straight MAC games.
The Eagles will put a young team on the diamond, as they lost four players to graduation last season. Midkiff is not worried about his troops being young – he actually thinks it is a good opportunity for one of the young guys to step up as a leader.
“A good leader will be a good leader as a first-year as much as he will be as a senior,” Midkiff said. “I don’t care the score, the inning, or who is on the field – we need to attack our opponent from (the) first pitch to (the) last.”
Eastern’s women’s lacrosse program will be returning everyone from their PAC Championship run last season. Last season, the Eagles posted a 14-5 record and a berth in the NCAA tournament. Now the MAC is in sight for the Eagles, and they are ready for it.
“I have no concerns going into the new league,” Head Coach Camrin Azzarano said. “Just motivation.”
Returning players will be the key to the Eagles’ success this season. Top scorer, sophomore Grace Griffith, will look to lead the attack for a second straight season, as she recorded 50 goals and dished out 24 assists last season.
Not too far behind her, seniors Jessie Basch, Katie Choquette, Erin Fries and Erin Reimel all recorded at least 30 goals last season. Senior Linnea Davis will be a leader for the defense, while senior Kimberly Campbell anchors the team as goalie. The Eagles have MAC Champions written all over them.
“I want us to take every conference game very seriously,” Azzarano said. “We will need to make sure we are focused every game.”
The Eagles look to be prepared as they open their season with a home game against Ursinus on Feb. 27.