Last season Maryland softball had the second highest overall winning percentage (.678) and the second highest ACC winning percentage (.632) in program history. As they look to put forth another one of the program’s best seasons ever they will have the aid of some of their greatest offensive weapons from a year ago, but will be without their greatest defensive one.
Senior outfielder Vangie Galindo returns after setting the Maryland single season records for batting average (.422) and hits (78) as a junior. The Terps also bring back senior Bree Hanafin and junior Lexi Carroll, who combined for nearly half of the team’s home runs in 2011. However, while they maintain all that firepower, they lose 2011 ACC Pitcher of the Year Kerry Hickey. Hickey is second all-time at Maryland with 663 strikeouts and third all-time with 55 wins. She will go down as one of the greatest pitchers in Terp softball history and leaves behind some tough shoes to fill.
The team that loses Hickey has been picked to finish fifth in their conference according to ACC coaches. Georgia Tech, a team that has won the ACC regular season championship the past three seasons, was picked to come in first. UNC was picked to finish second, Florida State was picked to finish third and Virginia, despite finishing last in the conference a year ago, was picked to finish fourth, just ahead of Maryland. The Terps were picked to finish fifth before the 2011 season as well, but finished third.
Maryland starts the season with a slew of tournaments before getting into a series format against their ACC opponents.
Their first tournament, taking place from Feb. 17 through Feb. 19, is the FAU Kick-Off Classic, which is hosted by Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla. In this tournament, the Terps will see a wide range of competition. A couple of the games should be cakewalks, but games against Kentucky and Michigan will provide plenty of a challenge.
Maryland’s most intriguing tournament is likely the Alabama Invite. When the Terps face Alabama on March 2nd and 3rd, not only will they be facing their toughest competition of the season, but also they will be facing the alma mater of assistant coaches Charlotte Morgan and Kelly Kretschman.
As far as ACC play goes, the Terps will travel to UNC, Georgia Tech, N.C. State and BC. They will host Virginia Tech, Virginia and Florida State.
After they wrap up the regular season with the Seminoles, Maryland will enter the ACC tournament, which is scheduled to begin on May 10. After that, the Terps would like to be heading back to their third consecutive NCAA tournament. If they can make these tournament bids a habit and maybe go a little further once they get there, head coach Laura Watten and company have the opportunity to make softball something to talk about along with lacrosse in College Park.