New Division I team hires coach

GW marked the official start of its varsity women’s softball program last week by announcing the hiring of head coach Leslie Moore.

Softball will move from competing at the club level to playing as a varsity team in the Atlantic 10, joining every other A-10 school except Richmond.

Citing the advantages of starting a new program, Moore said, “You have all your own players, you can inculcate your own style of play and philosophy and you don’t have to take on any leftover baggage.

“It’s all yours to build, and that is both exciting and challenging,” added Moore, an assistant coach at Lock Haven University for the past two seasons and a former player on both the United States and New Zealand national teams.

The team will play regular season games next spring and will play all of its home games at the newly completed softball field at the Mount Vernon Campus. The field, which is adjacent to Somers Hall near the main entrance, is made of the same outdoor artificial surface as the soccer field at MVC.

“A lot of Division I teams would be thrilled to play on that field,” Moore said, adding that she also hopes the field will help with the difficult task of recruiting players for the new team.

“The profile of the athlete that fits GW athletically, academically and monetarily is not easy to find,” she said. “But all the other sports face the same challenge and we can do it too.”

Since it is too late to recruit players for this year, the team will be comprised of last year’s club team members and walk-ons in its inaugural season, Moore said. While Moore has yet to meet any of the players from last year’s club team, she said she has written to all of them at home and plans on meeting with team captain Sammi Sordi, who lives in D.C., in the near future.

Sordi said she expects a slow transition to the varsity level, adding, “We’re probably not going to win a lot of games, but we’ve been waiting for this forever.”

As for her new coach, the catcher said, “She actually seems overqualified. I’m excited to have some structure because we haven’t had a coach, so now I’ll feel like a real student-athlete instead of feeling like we’re just fooling around out there.”

The team will begin competition in a conference that features three teams that finished last season among the top 10 in the NCAA Women’s Softball Committee’s northeast regional poll, led by A-10 Champion Massachusetts (53-13, 21-0).

“Other teams will run faster, throw harder and hit harder,” Moore said. “So they’ll have to adjust their decision-making to the speed of the game.”

But Moore said she hopes to use her extensive experience as a player to help the new team. In addition to her stints on two national teams, Moore has on her resume three College World Series appearances with Cal-State Fullerton, a national championship in the Amateur Softball Association and a World Cup appearance as captain of the New Zealand national soccer team.

“I know how to win and that’s my psyche,” she said. “I’ve never been involved with a losing program, and I hope to teach my players not only how to be better softball players but also how to win.”

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