The defending Centennial Conference co-champion Western Maryland College softball team will open the school's spring season this afternoon when it travels to Fayetteville, N.C., to compete in the Methodist College Invitational.
The Green Terror has seven starters back from last year's squad that finished 21-5 overall and shared the CC crown with Gettysburg (Pa.) College.
The 16-team, two-day tournament will be broken down into four pools of four teams with the top two from each advancing to the championship bracket tomorrow. The bottom two teams will compete in consolation play.
The Green Terror will open against Lebanon Valley (Pa.) College at 12:30, with the other pool-play games today against the host school at 4 p.m. and Lynchburg (Va.) College at 9:15 p.m.
Seventh-year coach George Dix has his top six batters returning from last year's team that averaged nine runs -- sixth best in the NCAA Division III.
Senior co-captain Jenny Stewart will do the majority of the pitchingwith the graduation of standout Marilyn Naas, who finished with a 43-12 mark as the Green Terror's all-time leader in wins. Stewart, a 1994 All-CC first-team selection as a designated hitter (.452), went 9-2 last season with a 2.60 earned-run average.
Junior catcher Jen Prowinski also returns as a All-CC first-teamer and is the other co-captain for the Green Terror. Prowinski hit .452 last season and set a school single-season record for doubles with eight.
Also returning is senior third baseman Sandra Johnson (North Carroll), who will provide much of the punch in the middle of the Green Terror lineup. Johnson hit .442 last season with a .767 slugging percentage in earning All-CC honorable mention. With 96 career hits, Johnson needs six more to become the school's all-time leader.
Senior shortstop Christa Mose (.294, 32 runs scored) and junior first baseman Kelli Bowen (.338) return to the infield with senior Carolyn Kelsey (All-CC first-teamer) and junior Laura Everhart back in the outfield.
Freshmen Kari Thompson and Julie Backof (Westminster) should see plenty of time in the outfield. Thompson was an All-Metro second-team selection last season at Archbishop Spalding and Backof was Player of the Year in Carroll County as a junior at Westminster. Gina Hughes (Westminster) is a freshman infielder who can contribute.
Sophomore Donte Abron captured two events to help lead the Green Terror men to a second-place finish at the CC championships at Haverford College last weekend.
Abron won the long jump (21 feet, 6 inches) and 55-meter -- (6.78 seconds) and came within an inch of a third when he finished second in the triple jump. His jump of 43-5 1/4 was just short of Haverford's Masilo Grant's effort of 43-6.
Green Terror senior Bill Tyrell set a CC mark in the 55 hurdles with a time of 8.14.
Haverford repeated as the men's team champion, racking up 188 points with Western Maryland second with 106. The Green Terror took only eight competitors to the meet with Haverford having 36.
The Western Maryland women finished seventh as Gettysburg successfully defended its CC crown.