AMHERST, Mass. - The 2016 Amherst College softball team returns 12 players from last year's squad, with four players in each of the returning classes, while adding seven strong newcomers. Despite graduating three of the four top offensive players, second-year head coach Jessica Johnson feels as though the team will have a "well-balanced attack with a great mix of finesse, ability to hit for average, and power from both sides of the plate."
Amherst will get plenty of power again from Jackie Carr '18, Brianna Cook '16, and Ally Kido '18. Carr was a powerhouse for the Purple & White at the plate in her first year as she led the team in slugging percentage (.702), on-base percentage (.518), and tied for first in triples with four. Cook was a key offensive player as well where she led the team in RBI (26). She also chipped in with two homeruns, four triples, and a .552 slugging percentage to help Amherst out-hit their opponents .316 to .291. Kido also played a significant role at the plate for Amherst leading the team with six doubles. She was second on the team in homeruns (3), one of which was a grand slam, and added a .494 slugging percentage with 18 RBI.
Amherst returns a healthy dose of returners in the infield, outfield, and behind the dish. With seven new members added to the roster, the Purple & White feature a deep and talented squad anchored by a stellar defense. Johnson is thrilled about the veteran leadership that has been brought back to the squad as well as newcomers Taylor Summers '16, Julia Turner '19, Sara Buck '19, Annie Murphy '19, Kyra Naftel '19, Sammy Salustri '19, and Lorena Ukanwa '19.
Amherst's depth chart goes five deep this year with plenty of talent led by Jackie Buechler '17. Buechler has had a superb two years in the circle with a career ERA of 2.10 in 203.2 innings. Last year, she struck out 86 batters, averaging 7.05 strikeouts per game, and walked 15.
Buechler is flanked nicely by other upperclass talents: her lefty battery mate Lauren Tuiskula '17 is poised for a breakout season and senior captain Nicolette Miranda will make her mark as the only righthanded veteran. Gina Pagan '18 returns after many bright outings last spring and rookie Lorena Ukanwa '19 looks to introduce herself to the NESCAC and region sooner rather than later.
The Purple & White will head to Florida in March to begin their 2016 season Saturday, March 12 with a doubleheader against Babson at 1 p.m. followed by New England College at 3 p.m. The annual spring training trip features 12 games over eight days before Amherst returns to the Pioneer Valley for its home-opening doubleheader against WPI Wednesday, March 30 beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Amherst will begin the month of April with a conference three-game series at home against Middlebury Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3. They will then host MCLA mid-week for a doubleheader (April 6) followed by a weekend at Hamilton for a three-game series. The Purple & White play three consecutive non-conference doubleheaders against Smith (April 13), Bates (April 16) and Keene State (April 20) before returning to NESCAC competition to take on long-time archrival, Williams April 22-23.
They will have one more non-conference doubleheader at Western New England Wednesday, April 27 before concluding their regular season with a three-game series against Wesleyan April 29-30.