Joseph A. Griswold -Assistant Sports Editor
Entering the 2019-2020 season, the Rhode Island College softball team is ranked last in the preseason Little East Coaches poll. The team looks to capitalize on their underdog label and learn from last year’s 10-20 record.
The team will be led by second year head coach Brian Claypool. From the outside, Claypool understands why the team is placed where it is, “We lost three kids that hit over .300 last year and with only 12 players on the team, do the math.”
Coach Claypool, however, is not on the outside, “Fortunately, for me I get to live the reality with these girls and see how they have grown and developed over that last year.”
In his first year, Coach Claypool focused on laying the foundations of a championship team and instilling his philosophy that “sport is a metaphor for life,” and being time-oriented, disciplined and forward will benefit you far beyond the softball diamond.
At the end of the season Coach Claypool understood improvements needed to be made, especially in the number of the players on the team. Now in his second season, Coach Claypool was able to fill a full roster, “Competition generates improvement, these girls now understand that they do not own their position themselves,” Claypool said. “If we all push each other this team will get better.”
Despite a small roster last season, RIC has nine returning players which they plan to lean heavily on. Two of the important players are senior pitchers Briana Gough and Erica Fleming, who will be crucial in determining how the season goes for the Anchorwomen. Both Gough and Fleming will handle a majority of the team’s pitching and have, “grown a lot from last year both as far as physical strength, pitching ability and a lot between the ears,” Coach Claypool said. Senior catcher Emma Simmons serves as the energy and spark to the team while senior Cristin Chiaverini, “has made the most growth of any player in 12 months,” Claypool said.
The returning core will look to mold the incoming talent and grow this team into a contender in the Little East. This process begins with the Anchorwomen’s trip to Virginia Beach for spring training to play some top-talent. This trip is aimed to help the Anchorwomen to meld together, form chemistry and learn to handle the big moments.
The future of the Anchorwomen looks bright, but only time will tell if all the pieces can come together and dispel the preseason poll.
The Anchorwomen open their home schedule in a March 18 double-header against the Coast Guard Bears.