[media-credit name="Jessica Cuneo" align="aligncenter" width="400"][/media-credit]The 2012 Metro softball season is on the horizon, and the squad has quite a few new faces replacing their nucleus from last season.
However, the Roadrunners lost more than just their nucleus. They lost most of their offensive firepower in players like Jennessa Tesone, who played left field from 2008 to 2011.
Because Metro’s offense is in rebuilding mode, first-year head coach Kristi Lansford knows her team has a lot of work to do to return to the glory days of 2010. The Roadrunners went to the College World Series semifinals in 2010, losing to Hawaii Pacific University.
After looking at statistics from last season, something quickly caught her attention.
“I noticed there was only one sacrifice bunt all year,” Lansford said. “That’s something we’ll use a lot more. I think that scoring runs is hard enough. So you have to manufacture them.”
Although Metro’s been successful at hitting home runs in the past, Lansford wants her team to bunt more often. When it came down to looking at her team’s current status at the plate, Lansford noted the lack of significant bats.
“In the past, (Metro’s) been real successful with the long ball. I don’t think we have the personnel to do that as much now,” Lansford said.
Lansford took over Metro’s softball program after a four-year stint at California State University at Bakersfield, in which she served as an assistant coach. Before CSU-Bakersfield, she coached San Francisco State University from 2001-2007.
At SFSU, Lansford took the Gators to the 2005 Division II College World Series and led them to a 41-win season in 2006.
“[My philosophy is] that we outwork everybody else,” Lansford said. “I just want to be that team that never goes away.”
Despite having few offensive weapons, Lansford does have another weapon back for 2012: junior pitcher Brittany Moss.
“I think it’s important for myself to come back and prove that I’m as good as where I was when I first quit,” said Moss, who redshirted last season after having a baby. “I came to a lot of the games [last year], and the toughest part was watching them and not being able to play with them.”
Moss last played for Metro May 27, 2010. Moss tallied an 11-1 record with 92 strikeouts during the 2010 season. She also posted a 2.73 ERA. She was the No. 2 starter for a Metro squad that also featured ace Christie Robinson. Robinson had a baby in 2008 before joining Metro in 2009.
Junior utility player Annalyse Garcia developed respect toward that pitching staff from her days at Colorado State University at Pueblo in 2010.
“If I remember correctly, that pitching staff was unstoppable,” Garcia said. “Christie Robinson, Brittany Moss and Julia [Diehl] all together. No one could touch them.”
Garcia especially remembered Moss’ dominating presence on the pitching mound.
“She keeps you on your toes, and you never know what to expect,” Garcia said. “She throws hard, the ball moves. She’s a tough pitcher.”
Senior center fielder Molly Clark is also glad to have Moss return.
“She throws harder than a lot of girls in the RMAC. She’s got a wicked off-speed [pitch],” Clark said.
With Moss back in the rotation and new players intact, Metro is getting ready for the 2012 season, which starts Feb. 3. The Roadrunners will start the new campaign in Turlock, Calif. against California’s Dominican University, with players like Clark leading the new-look squad.
“I kind of do have a bigger leadership role this year, since everyone is getting accustomed to a new coaching style, and the new girls are getting accustomed to college,” Clark said. “I embrace it.”