by Tom Utescher

Junior Eden Beschen lines up her bat during a GFS softball scrimmage last week. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Following a mass exodus of softball players with the class of 2010, Germantown Friends currently has to cope with the loss of just three seniors from its 2011 roster. That gives the Tigers a foundation of athletes with varsity experience going into the 2012 campaign.

This year’s senior class is also comprised of three players, centerfielder Allison David, left fielder Lauren Kelly, and first baseman Reem Rosenhaj. The primary pitcher is junior Erica Heinz (who advertises the steak sauce of the same name by wearing uniform number “57”), and the other hurler in the rotation is Becca Bateman, a sophomore who has moved up from last year’s JV squad.

Like Heinz, Isabel Linguiti is an 11th grader back from the 2011 varsity, and four of their classmates have just moved up to the first string: Eden Beschen, Rebecca Blaich, Allison O’Connor, and Lydia Wood. In a home scrimmage last week, Beschen started at second base and Blaich was stationed in right field.

The Tigers also started two accomplished sophomore athletes, Rachel Allison and Maddie Andrews. Allison, who earned praise on the soccer pitch last fall, is behind the plate at catcher. Andrews, who seems to enjoy seeing a ball speed towards her, is playing shortstop after serving as Germantown’s field hockey goalie at the start of the school year.

Bridget Curtin is the fourth sophomore on the team, and freshman Liana Spiro has also made the varsity roster. Last week Spiro started at first base in place of Rosenhaj, who was temporarily out of action with an injury.

In the early going there have been a few other absences, and in two scrimmages and one official game, head coach Susan Robinson noted “We haven’t had our full team playing at the same time. I’m looking forward to having everybody out there before long.”

In the one game they’ve played, the Tigers were edged by Baldwin School, 8-7. There were encouraging signs for GFS, according to Robinson.

“We’ve been scoring more than last year,” she said. “When we get people on base, we’ve been getting them home most of the time, and part of it is that we’ve become smarter baserunners. We’ve been working on thinking through situations when players are on base, and trying to develop good instincts instead of completely relying on the base coaches.”

During the school’s spring break this week, team members who haven’t gone away on vacation can continue to hone their skills. Things get serious in a hurry, as the Tigers return to school on Tuesday, April 3, and play their Friends Schools League opener that afternoon over at Friends Central.

Robinson said that while two-time defending champion Abington Friends graduated some strong hitters and has a new coach, the depth in their program will make the Kangaroos a formidable rival once more. The Tigers are hoping to go in the same direction with their softball franchise, and with 19 players out for the JV squad this spring, interest in the sport is not lacking.