Returnees Look To Play Increased Role In Outfield For 2010
Jan. 19, 2010
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis outfield will have a new look in 2010 after the graduation of starters Leandra Hines and Brittany Gooch, two players who were part of Windy Thees' original recruiting class in the first season of Tiger softball in 2006. Leading the way for the Tigers in 2010 will be the trio of senior Leigh Rowan, junior Kim Sirman and sophomore Lelani Bernardino.
"We definitely have some veterans returning to the outfield, but we are a little thin at the outfield position this season" said Memphis assistant coach Killian Roesnner. "We have been looking at multiple people in the outfield but Leigh, Kim and Lelani are ready to step up as the starters this season. We have also given looks to Maddie McKinley, Shanna Brown, Nikki Moreno and Morgan Mosby in the outfield. The bottom line is that it all comes down to who is going to hit. If you are going to hit, we are going to find a place for you in the lineup."
Rowan, a native of Marietta, Ga., returns to playing the outfield after spending most of the previous two seasons as the team's designated player after suffering an injury during her sophomore season. Rowan hit .263 last season in 38 games, which included 22 starts. She had two home runs and 17 RBI in 76 at bats.
"We are really looking to Leigh (Rowan) to be a leader of this team and of the outfield," Roessner said. "She is deceiving in the outfield. You look at her and you don't think she is going to be able to get to the ball, but next thing you know she has made the play. She seems to make every play."
Bernardino, a C-USA All-Freshman team selection in 2009, will more than likely rotate with Rowan between left field and right field. The native of Valencia, Calif., hit .264 as a freshman and led the team in runs with 28. Bernardino drove in 17 runs last season. She looks poised to hold down the Tigers' leadoff spot for the 2010 season.
"Lelani is really going to be the key to our batting lineup from her leadoff role," Roessner said. "She is also a phenomenal defensive player. Lelani has great range and a great arm."
"Coming into this year, I'm just more confident about my role on the team" Bernardino said. "It is a lot easier this year for me to tell other outfielders what they are doing wrong, and it has been easier to take the advice of other teammates on what I am doing wrong. My goal is to just do whatever I can to help make this team better. I am not too concerned about what I can do individually. I just want to be able to help this team realize it goals."
Sirman, a junior from Sugar Land, Texas, looks poised for an increased role in 2010 after mainly appearing as a pinch runner last season. In her 31 appearances in 2009, Sirman had only 10 at bats.
"It has been very exciting so far this season," Sirman said. "I have worked hard for the past two years, and I am finally getting an opportunity to contribute to the team as a center fielder."
McKinley, the team's starter at third base, should see some time as an outfielder this season due to the team's lack of depth. The junior from Chickamauga, Ga., played some in the outfield during the fall exhibition season and will look to contribute as needed in 2010.
Brown, a middle infielder, and Moreno, a catcher, have also been taking reps in the outfield during spring practice, along with Mosby, a utility player from Hernando, Miss.
Kamri Chester, a sophomore from Chattanooga, Tenn., will take a medical redshirt during the spring.