Brandywine Softball Gets Season Started Saturday In Florida

Katie DeStefano
Katie DeStefano

MEDIA, Pa. -- Penn State Brandywine's three-time defending Penn State University Athletic Conference champion softball team will make its 2018 debut on Saturday during its annual Spring Break trek to Clermont, Fla.

Brandywine plays its first eight of 40 games this spring in Clermont with all of the Sunshine State contests coming against some of the top teams in NCAA Division III.

The only team from Brandywine to ever win three consecutive conference titles, the Lions' featured the top-ranked offense in the PSUAC and a top-five lineup nationally in 2017. Brandywine, now in its fifth season as a varsity program under the direction of Head Coach Mark Caserta, returns nearly every player to their potent lineup, including four student-athletes who finished in the top 15 in the conference in hitting last year.

All-American center fielder Arianna Segich needed just two seasons to reach 100 career hits after batting .450 as a sophomore, the third-highest mark in the PSUAC. She also stole 35 bases in 36 attempts and owns 72 stolen bases for her career.

Sophomore Alexa Anderson enjoyed a standout rookie season as she led the team in runs batted in with 31 and collected 44 hits, finishing tied for 12th in hitting with teammate Katie DeStefano with a .386 batting average. DeStefano, a two-time all-American, is a career .375 hitter, but will also be leaned on as one of the team's top pitchers. She has racked up 19 victories and 151 strikeouts in three seasons, while being named PSUAC Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the Year as a freshman. DeStefano will likely split time in the circle with freshman Kayla Corrente.

The pitchers' battery mate will be senior Julie Foeldes, who enters her fourth season as the team's starting catcher. Foeldes was named to the USCAA All-Tournament Team after hitting .571 during Brandywine's postseason run, which saw the Lions finish fourth at the USCAA World Series for the second-straight season. Overall, she set career bests with a .317 batting average and 22 RBI in 2017, while also throwing out 30 percent of attempted base stealers.

Shortstop Nikki Velez also finished as one of the conference's top hitters last season as she posted a .382 mark along with 16 RBI. Velez, a two-time all-American point guard, will join the team following the conclusion of Brandywine's women's basketball season. The Lions are playing for a national title at the USCAA Tournament in Uniontown, Pa., this week.

Also returning for Brandywine are outfielder Maddie Malfara and infielder Katy Steffen. Malfara has collected 47 hits and 53 runs scored during her two-year career, while Steffen, a former all-American as a freshman, is back on the roster after spending one year at University Park. Steffen owns 11 home runs and 83 RBI in two seasons with Brandywine.

After returning from Florida, Brandywine will play a pair of home, non-conference doubleheaders during the week of March 12 before starting conference play March 22 at home against Penn State Schuylkill. The Lions, who are 52-2 against PSUAC foes the last three seasons, will play each of the PSUAC Eastern Division's five teams four times before the conference tournament, which will be held in State College on May 6-7.