New Faces Contributing Early for Syracuse Softball
By Sam Lebowitz
CitrusTV’s Softball Beat Reporter
Shannon Doepking’s roster looks quite different from the one she was handed in her first season as head coach of the Syracuse Softball team.
Doepking emphasized a culture shift when she arrived at Syracuse for the 2019 season. She wanted a program led by attention to detail and values, like the ones she instilled in her time as Dartmouth’s head coach. Doepking was named Ivy League Coach of the Year in her final season with Dartmouth, leading the Big Green to the Ivy League title.
The roster is indicative of that cultural shift. Outside of three seniors who graduated after last season, five players did not return to the roster for 2020. Doepking made it clear that she is going to build the roster that she wants. She did that by bringing in five freshmen and three transfers.
One such transfer is slap-hitting centerfielder Jamie Gregg. She stole a school record 58 bases her sophomore year, and hit an astounding .440 clip as a junior at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama. But at Mississippi State as a freshman, Gregg was used solely as a pinch runner. She had just a single at bat the entire season despite appearing in 30 games.
Now, Gregg appears entrenched as the centerfielder for this Syracuse team. She’s off to a strong start, with nine hits in 28 at bats. She has hit safely in five of SU’s first seven games, including a four-hit, three-RBI performance against Rutgers on Valentine’s Day in an 11-10 loss. She trails just Gabby Teran for the team lead in runs batted in so far with five. Gregg and Teran at the top of the Syracuse order has been a dynamic combination in the early season.
But Gregg is not the only newcomer making an impact to the SU offense. After two weekends of games, the team’s leading hitter is freshman Rebecca Clyde, with a .348 average. Similar to Gregg, Clyde has hits in five of the seven games so far. She had a pair of doubles, including a clutch, seventh-inning, game-tier, in that slugfest against the Scarlet Knights.
Clyde has started every game so far at third base. Her offensive production clearly has not gone unnoticed, either. After batting eighth in the lineup through the first five games, she has batted fifth and then in the cleanup spot in the last two, respectively.
The Old Tappan, New Jersey native has made her presence felt not only with her bat but with her voice as well. Despite the season being so fresh, Clyde has already made her intensity and energy known. She is constantly yelling in support of her teammates and jumping around at the hot corner after big pitches. She could hardly be contained after her clutch double against Rutgers.
But Clyde and Gregg are not the only new faces making impacts so far. Freshmen Kaia Oliver has seen the most innings in the pitching circle outside of ace Alexa Romero so far. Another freshman, Catie Dobbs, kept the Orange within striking distance with a strong relief outing in her college debut during their game against Rutgers following a rough start for Miranda Hearn. Jude Padilla is already earning a reputation as a strong defensive catcher behind the dish. Junior transfer Paris Woods ripped a go-ahead triple in extra innings against Indiana on Saturday.
Doepking has created a culture in which every player knows that no matter their stature or role, they can be asked to step up at any given moment. So far, the newcomers on the roster have done exactly what has been asked of them.
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