Kellie Pennington of the women’s track and field team took home a National Championship and Steve Starr helped lead the baseball team with outstanding individual performances, earning them the Springfield Student Newspaper Players of the Week award for 3/21/12 through 3/28/12.
Athletes of the Week for 3/21/12–3/28/12
Kellie Pennington captured the 50 Freestyle National Championship this past weekend in Indianapolis, Ind. The sophomore is coming off a terrific sophomore season. Pennington won her second consecutive NEWMAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year. This is her first national title. What’s more impressive is that this is the first female national champion head coach John Taffe has coached in his 23 years at Springfield College. The Monson, Mass. native was one of six female swimmers to qualify for the event. Four of those swimmers were seniors. Pennington’s efforts helped SC finish 12th overall in the event, the same finish as last season.
Q. How does it feel going to and competing in the NCAA Championships?
A. It feels great going to NCAA’s for the second time. The competition is really tough there, but that is the meet I was looking forward to all season.
Q. The team placed well at the event, was that the team goal going into the meet?
A. We had a relatively small team going into the meet, but we are all strong and placed. I think quality is always more important than quantity at a big meet like this.
Q. How does it feel placing second in the meet?
A. Winning was a great accomplishment and it exceeded my own goals that I had for myself. I wanted to at least get top three in my events and ending with a first-and a second-place finish was amazing.
Q. As a sophomore, what do you look to accomplish next in your career?
A. Every year I have been swimming, it has been my goal to go faster. I don’t think places in a meet or winning is important. If I am improving my times every year, that’s all that matters to me.
Freshman outfielder Steve Starr has had early success in his college career at Springfield College. Starr is currently second on the team, behind senior Karl Quist, in batting average at .390. Starr, the leadoff hitter, has 14 hits in 13 games to go along with 11 RBIs. The Lebanon, Conn. native has sparked Springfield to an 8-5 start. In a win against WPI in the Pride’s home opener on Mar. 24, Starr went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Starr is also a speedster on the bases, recording eight steals so far this season. Springfield is hitting a tough part of the schedule with four games in three days to end the month (Mar. 29 at Westfield State; Mar. 30 vs. Clark; Mar. 31 vs. Clark (2)).
Q. The team has started off strong this season, what do you attribute your success to?
A. Our pitchers are putting together quality starts and giving us a chance to win. Also, our lineup from one to nine is getting on base and scoring runs.
Q. Being a freshman, how has the transition been from high school to college baseball?
A. The transition was easy for the most part. The only thing that’s different is playing so many games in one week.The doubleheaders on the weekends is also a big adjustment.
Q. Do you feel any added pressure being a freshman and starting for a varsity college team?
A. No, my high school coach Marty Gomez prepped me to have what it takes to make the transition very smooth.
Q. You’re hitting .390 right now, do you think you can maintain a high batting average like this throughout the season?
A. I’d rather have it higher, but as long as we’re winning it doesn’t matter. As a leadoff hitter getting on base and scoring runs is what I have to do.
Q. How do you think the team will fare the rest of the way?
A. I think we’re going to be a very good team and win our fair share of games. We need to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. It is a long season.
Nick Lovett may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org