Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 16
 
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
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FIRING AWAY: Princeton University softball star Jamie Lettire fires the ball in a game last spring. This season, Lettire’s efforts on the mound and at the plate have helped the Tigers get off to a 12-0 start in Ivy League play. Lettire is 4-3 on the mound and is hitting .365 with 9 homers and 24 RBIs. In upcoming action, Princeton will host doubleheaders with Penn on April 19 and 20.

PU Softball Perfect in Ivy Play, Showing Strength Through Lineup

Bill Alden

When the Princeton University softball team dropped 12 out of 13 games on its spring break swing in California, it would have been understandable if first-year head coach Trina Salcido lost some confidence in her squad.

Instead, Salcido’s belief in her players was unshaken even as the defeats piled up.

“We had to stay positive, we had heartbreaking losses in the last inning and we had big losses to teams like Stanford and Cal,” said Salcido, whose club dropped six one-run contests on the trip.

“I told them it’s in you. I work with you everyday and I know you can do it. Just because you lost doesn’t mean you are a loser. They never came away with a complex or came in acting like they were broken.”

Salcido’s faith in her players has proven well-placed as the Tigers have roared to a 12-0 start in Ivy League play upon their return to the east coast.

Last weekend, Princeton showed its flair for timely hitting as well as its versatile pitching rotation in posting two doubleheader sweeps at Columbia.

In Salcido’s view, the team was clicking on all cylinders as it topped the Lions 14-1 and 5-0 on Saturday and then came back to rout Columbia 13-1 and 5-0 on Sunday.

“It was a complete team effort,” said Salcido, whose team is now 15-19 overall.

“Being consistent means playing as a team and everybody on the team contributing. When you have only 13 players, everyone has to make a contribution.”

At the plate last weekend, Princeton got big contributions from Kat Welch (3 homers) and Kelsey Quist (3 homers). On the mound, Kristen Schaus picked up two wins while Michelle Tolfa and Jamie Lettire each notched a victory.

Salcido saw a sense of urgency from her team as the program reached the 12-0 mark in Ivy play for just the second time in program history.

“There is a difference between stressing and pressing,” explained Salcido.

“Going into a weekend 8-0 with a target on your back and being expected to win, you could press. Or you can go out with a sense of urgency and when you have an opportunity, to do something for the team and try to put your best foot forward.”

The middle of the Princeton lineup has been putting its best foot forward with junior Welch and sophomores Quist and Lettire providing plenty of punch.

“Our 3-4-5 hitters have been great,” maintained Salcido. “Kat Welch is Kat, she has always been good but she is really coming into her own as a number 3 batter. She is a co-captain and shortstop; she has big shoes to fill and she is doing it. With Kelsey and Jamie behind her, the load doesn’t get put on her. The RBIs are spread out.”

Welch is hitting .340 with nine homers and 20 RBIs with Quist at .365 with a team-high 11 home runs and 30 RBIs and Lettire also at .365 with 9 homers and 24 RBIs.

The Tiger attack, though, is hardly a three-player show. “The freshmen are contributing,” said Salcido.

“Brittney Scott and Kristin Arguedas each got their first homer over the weekend. Megan Weidrick hit two homers. With Collette Abbott and Beth Dalmut we have depth. There are not any holes in our lineup; some teams rely on two or three hitters and wait for when they come up. Our lineup is strong up and down. We are excited for every inning.”

Salcido is also excited about the flexibility she has with her pitching rotation.

“When you are playing four games every weekend, it’s great to have three good pitchers,” added Salcido.

“Kris has experience, she has done all of this before but she loves having the other two. They work well as a staff. They have worked on coming into their own style. They really do a good job of keeping pitches down and balls in the park.”

In Salcido’s view, her team is doing a good job of being consistent. “They are very, very confident but they are humble, they know where they have been,” said Salcido.

“The trip on spring break was tough but you have to learn how to lose before you learn to win. Once you learn how to win, you have to be consistent. That’s the toughest thing, being mentally and physically ready the next day and then the next day after that.”

The Tigers have developed a special chemistry that should have them ready to do more special things as the spring unfolds.

“This is a special team, when you can accomplish what we are doing up and down the lineup with just 13 players,” said Salcido, whose team hosts doubleheaders this weekend with Penn on April 19 and 20.

“You have to get the most out of what you have. They go about it the right way. We have to kick them off the practice field everyday. Off the field they are a unit, they do everything together.”

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