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Shepherd hits the Trail toward respectability

February 27, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - David Trail is about to undertake something he had only played out in his head before.

For many years, Trail has been a fast-pitch softball mainstay in the Eastern Panhandle. His experiences have been vast and successful.

Now, Trail is putting down his glove to become Shepherd College's softball coach, inheriting a team that is long on youth and short on winning records. Still, the road to success is all in Trail's head.

"While I was playing, I coached a lot of games in my head," Trail said. "The basics of the game are all the same."

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Trail inherits Rams team which finished 16-14 last season, including a 10-9 mark in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, where they have been voted to finish ninth out of 13 teams this season.

And Shepherd will be forced to do it all with a roster which lost nine starters from last season who have been replaced by 10 freshmen and two sophomores.

"We are starting a new tradition here today," Trail said. "We are going to rely on our pitching but we have also looked good on defense. We have some speed and what looks to be a nucleus of some good hitters. Those are all the components it takes to win."

Pitching - which is Trail's specialty when he played - is the top priority and that means the majority of the work will fall on the shoulders of Christee Anderson. The Martinsburg (W.Va.) graduate finished 8-5 for the Rams last season.

"She had some good games and some not-so-good games last year," Trail said. "I've worked with her some. She needs to be more consistent. We also have two freshmen pitchers. I told them that if they can continually shutout the other team, we should be able to win."

Other pitching possibilities are Karen Burnette and Megan Hall.

Jefferson's Beth Vickers will start at catcher and is one of three upperclassmen who are considered to be Shepherd's nucleus. Captains Mara Kafton, an outfielder from Martinsburg, and second baseman Carrie Cline are the other upperclass starters.

There isn't a familiar face in Shepherd's starting infield. All four positions, including Cline, are first-time starters. Martinsburg's Jennifer Canby, a transfer from Wheeling Jesuit, will start at third while freshman Brooke Small is slated to start at first base. Frederick (Md.) graduate Crystal Tharp will play shortstop.

Joining Kafton, who will play left, in the outfield is projected to be freshman Sara Rosboschil in center while Katy Fincham, Jenna Kirk and Jessica Burton - all freshmen - vie for the right field job.

Even with all the youth on the roster, Trail doesn't seem to be worried about the Rams finding the right direction in the standings.

"Leadership is not an issue. All these players have been playing since they have been 6," he said. "They have been all over playing on traveling teams. The conference schedule should be no different than any of those games because they have probably faced a lot of the players before."

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