Kovac poised to lead softball to Patriot League Championships

Elise Covert, Sports Co-Editor

The Patriot League released its softball preseason rankings on Feb. 8 and projected the Bison in the fourth place in the conference. Lehigh was the predicted number one, followed closely by Army West Point. Defending champion Boston University filled out the third top-four spot.

Additionally, the League posted preseason All-Patriot League honors, a list of the top 12 projected players for the 2017 season. The lone Bison on the list was Meghan Kovac ’18, first baseman for the Orange and Blue. It is her first career appearance in preseason honors, as voted upon by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Kovac appeared on the First Team All-Patriot League roster in 2016 after an outstanding sophomore season.

Kovac led the team in batting average last season, with an average of .399. She also led the team in home runs (six), RBIs (40), and doubles (20). With these numbers, Kovac smashed the previous program record of 15 doubles in a season, and her 67 hits overall placed her in the second spot in program history. Head coach Courtnay Foster expects Kovac to continue to lead the team with her demanding offensive presence.

“Meghan is very deserving of the All-League nod and we expect that she will continue to build on the success she had in 2016. Meghan will continue to be a power presence in the middle of our line-up and has a strong voice in the infield,” Foster said. She went on to commend Kovac’s hard work over the off-season and her dedication to improving her game.

Foster is entering her second season as Bison head coach after leading the team to a 27-23 overall record, going 11-7 in the Patriot League. The team qualified for the League tournament for the fourth consecutive year last spring.

The biggest changes in the team’s composition this year come in the pitcher’s position. While most of the Bison’s starting lineup is returning, they will have to find a way to fill the hole left by the graduation of First Team Patriot League pitcher Amanda Fazio ’16, who led the league in ERA last year at 1.81. Both Kovac and Foster emphasized the importance of building their young pitching staff.

“While we didn’t lose all of our pitching we went from having three seniors on staff to now adding three freshmen to the staff. We do have one senior on staff, but overall we have pretty young pitchers. While there is inexperience there for the Patriot League, our bullpen is probably one of the most competitive in the league and I am excited to see what positive things are pitching does for us this year,” Kovac said.

While acknowledging the inexperience of her pitching core, Foster expressed confidence in the leadership of returning pitcher Lara Bean ’17 and in the development of her young first-year recruits.

“We will see some new faces in the circle this season with two freshmen arms; Raeanne Geffert and Lauren Lichtenwalner have consistently improved since August and I have confidence in them to win games for us,” Foster said.

Despite these challenges, the Orange and Blue have their sights set on a Patriot League Championship. The release of the number four ranking has lit a fire among the players to prove that the Bison are deserving of more respect in the league.

“Being ranked at number four has not changed the fact that we think we can win a championship … The second the rankings came out everybody was saying ‘Prove them wrong.’ No strategy has changed other than us thinking that they aren’t going to see us coming, and that we want to prove to the Patriot League that we are better than number four,” Kovac said.

Foster is similarly optimistic about the team’s outlook on the season, and stressed the need to focus on improving her team’s game each week.

“As a team we want to learn quickly and improve each week. If we can play the game with discipline and take care of the little things it takes to win, I like our chances going into conference play,” Foster said.

The Orange and Blue look to open their season on the winning track with five games at the Gardner-Webb Tournament on Feb. 17-19.

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