1999 Virginia Softball Season Review
May 21, 1999
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia softball team completed its 1999 season with a record of 35-26 overall, 4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. UVa competed in the ACC Softball Championships in Tallahassee, Fla. as the number four seed and finished runner up for the second consecutive season. The Cavaliers placed second in the tournament with a 3-2 record, including two wins over top-seeded and #21 ranked Maryland.
There are several factors that jump to the forefront when assessing what has made Virginia such a productive team the past two seasons. Excellent coaching, experienced returning players, solid team chemistry, a talented first-year class of players and a knack for winning. UVa finished the ’99 season 18-6 at home, 13-11 on neutral sites and 4-9 on the road. The Cavaliers were 12-11 in one run games, 6-4-2 in doubleheaders and 4-5 in extra inning games. Virginia finished 24-3 when ahead after six innings of play, 7-4 when tied after six innings of play and was 4-19 when behind after six innings of play. UVa was a perfect 7-0 against left-handed starting pitchers and was 28-26 against right-handed pitchers. The Cavaliers were 33-22 in day games and 2-4 in night contests. Virginia had nearly 7,000 spectators in attendance for its games this season, including over 2,400 fans at The Park in Charlottesville, Va.
In only her second season as Virginia’s head softball coach, Cheryl Sprangel has sculpted the Cavaliers into an ACC contender. She has turned UVa into a consistent winner, and her coaching tactics and strategies are paying off. With a coaching record of 73-54 (.575) during her two seasons at UVa, Sprangel has proven the Cavaliers are consistent winners under her guidance. In fact, during the past two seasons under Sprangel’s coaching, the 1998 and 1999 seasons have been nearly identical for Virginia.
Sprangel lead UVa to consecutive back-to-back 30 plus wins in a season the last two years. The ’98 squad finished 38-28 overall (.576) , 3-5 in the ACC, while the ’99 team finished 35-26 overall (.574), 4-4 in the conference. Aside from posting nearly the same winning percentages, it was only the third time in UVa softball history that a UVa softball team posted consecutive 30 plus wins in a season. The similarities do not stop there. Both the ’98 and ’99 teams recorded an 11-game win streak during the regular season. The 11-game winning streaks are the second longest win streaks in school history. Both the ’98 and ’99 squads entered the ACC tournament as the number four seed, and both team eventually finished runner up by placing second in the tournament. No surprise, both squads finished with identical 3-2 records in the tournament. In both conference tournaments in 19998 and 1999, Virginia had three members selected to the All-Tournament Teams.
Another key contribution to the success the past two seasons has been the assistant coaching. Jamie Pinkerton completed his first season as an assistant softball coach at UVa. He enjoyed his finest season as an assistant coach as he played an integral role in guiding the Cavaliers to their 35-26 finish this season. Pinkerton was an important and beneficial addition to the UVa softball program this season, as he assisted the team with hitting, outfielding, administrative and recruiting duties which kept UVa aloft at the top of the softball world.
JoAnne Ferguson completed her second season as a graduate assistant at Virginia. Once again, she assisted Sprangel to guiding the Cavaliers to another 30 plus win season. She was an important part of the Cavaliers success last year as well during her first season as an assistant. In 1998, Ferguson assisted UVa en route to 38 victories, the second highest win total in a single season at Virginia. She has assisted Sprangel during both of her seasons as the head softball coach at Virginia.
Although Virginia thrives on receiving solid contributions from the team as a whole, each individual on the squad stood out this season in one way or another with their performances which translated into another successful season for the ‘Hoos. Kristen Dennis, Lori Reese, Karen Breshears, Amy Peay formed the starting core of UVa’s infield throughout most of the season. Ranging from first-year players to fourth-years, this group meshed together to form a cohesive unit.
Dennis started all 59 games she appeared in this season for Virginia. When she was not pitching or slated as the designated player, Dennis was UVa’s first baseman. She was selected to the 1999 Atlantic Coast Conference All-Tournament Team and was chosen to the UNC Triangular Classic All-Tournament Team this season. Dennis was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week on April 27 and was tabbed the ACC Player of the Week on Feb. 23. 15 of her 59 starts were as a pitcher, were she gathered a record of 9-6 (.600). She demonstrated she is one of UVa’s most versatile players as she excelled at first base, pitcher and at the plate in her first season of collegiate play.
Dennis batted .347 with 176 appearances at bat. She recorded team-highs with 247 putouts, 27 RBI, 16 doubles and two homeruns. Dennis finished third on the team with 61 hits (including one triple) and 27 runs scored. She was successful on seven of her nine stolen base attempts. Dennis appeared in 18 games as a pitcher, were she posted a 1.64 ERA. She faced 482 batters through 111 innings of work and was second on the team with 92 strikeouts and four shutouts. Dennis finished third on the team with ten complete games pitched and tallied a .986 fielding percentage. She also gathered one save as a pitcher. Dennis ranks first in the ACC in double per game with a 0.27 average, fourth in the conference with a .347 batting average, fourth in the ACC with a 1.64 ERA, fourth in the conference with a 5.80 strikeouts per game, fifth in the ACC in pitching victories percentage with a mark of 9-6 (.600) and is fifth in the conference with one save this season.
Reese stared all 61 games she appeared in at shortstop. She was named the ACC Player of the Week on May 4 and was selected to 1999 UVa ‘Hoos Who All-Tournament Team. Reese finished second on Virginia’s all-time hit list at UVa with 181 career hits. She was second only to Weezy Calderone’s mark of 186 career hits at UVa. Reese batted .333 with 192 appearances at the plate. She was second on the team with 64 hits, including 10 doubles, three triples and one homerun. She scored a team-high 40 runs and was second on the team with 26 RBI. Reese was successful with a team-high 23 stolen bases on 24 attempts, good for a .958 succession rate. She recorded a team-high 136 assists to go along with 109 putouts and tallied 11 sacrifice hits and with a .901 fielding percentage. Reese was named a First-Team selection to the 1999 All-American Farm Team, which recognizes outstanding collegiate athletes that come from a farming or ranching background. She has started every game at shortstop during her career at Virginia. She finished third in the conference with a stolen base per game average of 0.38, fifth in the ACC in triples per game with an average of 0.05 and seventh in the conference with a batting average of .333. Reese was drafted 46th overall by the Carolina Diamonds in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch League (WPFL) in the eighth round of the Senior Draft.
Breshears started all 61 games for UVa at third base. She was selected to the 1999 ACC All-Tournament Team . For the season, she batted .274 with 179 appearances at the plate where she recorded 49 hits, including six doubles, three triples and one homerun. Breshears was tied for first on the team with 27 RBI while she scored 15 runs. She finished second on the team with 125 assists to go along with 34 putouts and successful on three of her six stolen base attempts. Breshears gathered ten sacrifice hits and tallied a .935 fielding percentage at third base.
Peay started all 56 games she appeared in at second base. She batted .194 in 139 appearances at the plate. Peay recorded 27 hits, including a double, scored 17 runs and gathered ten RBI. She was a perfect 6-6 in stolen base attempts, finished fourth on the team with 118 putouts and was third on the squad with 104 assists. Peay tallied a .941 fielding percentage and collected ten sacrifice hits on the season.
Mariruth Graham and Gina McCabe shared the catching duties this season for UVa. Graham started 42 of the 49 games she appeared in as a catcher. She batted .227 with 97 appearances at the plate. Graham recorded 22 hits, including two doubles and a triple, tallied 13 RBI and scored 11 runs. She was third on the team with 204 putouts and was successful on five of her seven stolen base attempts. She threw out 22 of the 68 baserunners that attempted a stolen base attempt while she was behind the plate and posted a .975 fielding percentage.
McCabe started 19 of the 21 games she has appeared in as a catcher. She batted .350 with 20 appearances at the plate. McCabe recorded seven hits, including a triple, to go along with three RBI and one run scored. She gathered 124 putouts and 11 assists while posting a fielding percentage of .978. McCabe was 2-2 in stolen base attempts, collected four sacrifice hits and threw out three of the 20 baserunners that attempted to steal a base while she was catching and posted a .978 fielding percentage.
Julie Amaon and Emily Wilkinson gathered their share of playing time in the infield for the Cavaliers this season. Amaon started 34 of the 36 games she appeared in, as she rotated first base duties with Dennis. She recorded nine hits, scored five runs and gathered three RBI while batting .122 after 74 appearances at the plate. Amaon finished second on the team with 208 putouts, collected five sacrifice hits, 15 assists and posted a .982 fielding percentage.
Wilkinson started six of the 14 games she appeared in this season at second base, where she gathered valuable experience. Two of her starts this season came in the ACC Tournament, where she filled in nicely for an injured Peay. She recorded 22 putouts and 20 assists en route to a 1.000 fielding percentage. Wilkinson scored two runs and was 1-2 in stolen base attempts.
The pitching trio of Dennis, Chrissy Quinn and Stacey Zagol has shouldered most of the work load this season for Virginia. As mentioned earlier, Dennis was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week on April 27. 15 of her 59 starts were as a pitcher, were she recorded a record of 9-6 (.600). She appeared in 18 total games as a pitcher, were she posted a 1.64 ERA. She faced 482 batters through 111 innings of work and was second on the team with 92 strikeouts and four shutouts. Dennis finished third on the team with ten complete games pitched and tallied a .986 fielding percentage. She also gathered one save as a pitcher. Dennis ranks fourth in the ACC with a 1.64 ERA, fourth in the conference with a 5.80 strikeouts per game, fifth in the ACC in pitching victories percentage with a mark of 9-6 (.600) and is fifth in the conference with one save this season.
Quinn started 27 of the 37 games she has appeared in. She was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week on April 5 and is fifth all-time on Virginia’s career list for strikeouts (324) and for complete games thrown (34). She was the starting pitcher in 15 of her 21 pitching appearances and posted a record of 9-8 (.529) which is tied for the second most wins for a pitcher this season on the UVa roster. Quinn threw 12 complete games and logged 112 innings of work as she faced 498 batters while recording a team-high 113 strikeouts. She posted an ERA of 2.25 as s pitcher. Quinn batted .147 after 68 appearances at the plate and gathered ten hits, including one double. She scored five runs and has two RBI and was a perfect 7-7 in stolen base attempts. Quinn tallied 21 assists and five putouts with a fielding percentage of .963. She lead the conference in strikeouts per game with an average of 7.06 per game and ranked ninth in the ACC with an ERA of 2.25.
Zagol started 24 of the 31 games she appeared in and posted an 11-10 record (.524) as a pitcher. She faced 574 batters after pitching 134.1 innings and recorded team-highs with 15 complete games, five shutouts and two saves. Zagol struckout 65 batters and recorded a 2.29 ERA . She also proved her versatility in the ACC Tournament by handled first base duties. Zagol gathered four hits, including a double, in only 19 at bats for a batting average of .211. She posted a .971 fielding percentage of and tallied 57 assists and 10 putouts. Zagol is third on Virginia’s all-time strikeout list with 334 career strikeouts and is fourth all-time at UVa with 54 completes thrown. She finished the season ranked second in the ACC with two saves and was tenth in the conference with an ERA of 2.42.
Cory Bolkan, Katie Zunno and Erin Allinder were an important part of Virginia’s stellar pitching rotation. Although the trio did not pitch a large share of UVa’s games this season, they did post a combined record of 6-2 (.750) for the Cavaliers this season.
Bolkan started six of the 15 games she appeared in this season. She recorded the most wins in a season for her career as a pitcher at Virginia in ’99, as she posted a 3-1 (.750) record with a 3.19 ERA. UVa’s lone fourth-year pitcher, Bolkan threw three complete games and faced 121 batters in 26.1 innings of work. She tallied 14 strikeouts, recorded six assists, scored two runs and posted a 1.000 fielding percentage on the year. Bolkan was also utilized as a pinch runner throughout the season for the Cavaliers.
Zunno started six of the 19 games she appeared in. She batted .350 with 20 at bats and recorded seven hits, scored three runs and gathered one RBI. Zunno also tallied five assists and two putout. She started two of the four games she pitched in this season and posted a 2-0 record (1.000) with a 0.49 ERA. She threw one complete game and gathered one shutout while faced 54 batters through 14.1 innings of work. Zunno collected 13 strikeouts and posted a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Allinder started three of the four games she appeared in as a pitcher and posted a record of 1-1 (.500). She recorded nine strikeouts and three assists while sporting a 1.000 fielding percentage after facing 74 batters through 16.2 innings of work. Allinder finished the season with a 1.68 ERA. She posted one shutout and threw two complete games.
Meaghan Young, Corinne Good and Jen Krill grouped together to form Virginia’s starting outfield for most of the season. The trio started 57 of Virginia’s 61 games together this season.
Young started all 61 games she appeared in for UVa in right field. She was selected to the 1999 ACC All-Tournament Team and was named the ACC Player of the Week on May 4. Young was also named to the UVa ‘Hoos Who All-Tournament Team . She batted .321 with 209 appearances at the plate and recorded a team-high 67 hits, including eight doubles, two triples and one homerun. Young finished second on the team with 28 runs scored and fourth on the squad with 21 RBI. She was successful on 11-17 stolen base attempts (.647) and tallied 49 putouts to go along with .926 fielding percentage. Young has already collected 133 career hits in just two seasons, putting her on pace to shatter the current all-time hit total of 186.
Good started 57 of the 60 games she has played in center field. She batted .208 after 149 appearances at the plate with 31 hits, including nine doubles. Good scored 21 runs and tallied 10 RBI while recording 65 putouts a fielding percentage of .970. She was successful on seven of ten stolen base attempts and posted 14 sacrifice hits.
Krill started 57 of the 59 games she has appeared in this seasons. She batted .184 with 158 appearances at the plate. Krill recorded 29 hits, including two doubles. She gathered 20 RBI and scored ten runs. Krill tallied nine sacrifice hits and was 2-2 in stolen base attempts. She collected 29 putouts and posted a .906 fielding percentage.
Three of the quickest and fastest players for UVa this season were outfielders Claudia Hickey, Kelly McCabe and Erin McMorrow. Although the trio did not start a majority of Virginia’s games this season, the three players were a force to be reckoned with, particularly on the base paths.
Hickey found her nitch as both a center fielder and as one of Virginia most dangerous base runners. Hickey started four of the 39 games she appeared in as a center fielder. She spent most of her time running as a pinch runner. She scored 11 runs and was successful on eight of her 11 stolen base attempts. In Virginia’s 7-2 victory over UNC-Charlotte on April 18, Hickey went 3-3 in stolen base attempts as she stole three consecutive bases, the last attempt was good for a run scored. She collected 10 putouts and has a fielding percentage of 1.000.
McCabe had her 1999 playing season cut short just three games into the year. She started two of the three games she appeared in this season before suffering an injury. In her three games of action, she batted .600 as she went 3-5 at the plate. McCabe scored two runs and recorded a triple and was successful on her only stolen base attempt of the season.
McMorrow started 15 of the 30 games she appeared in this season for UVa. She batted .190 with eight hits (including one triple) after 42 appearances at the plate. McMorrow scored eight runs and posted three RBI. She was 7-11 in stolen base attempts, gathered eight putouts and tallied a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Although Virginia’s season came to an end after the ACC Tournament, the Cavaliers have plenty to look forward to heading into the 2000 season. With nearly all of the Cavaliers returning from the 1999 squad, including all but two returning starters, UVa looks geared to make another run at an ACC Title and a NCAA berth.