The past few years, a resilient group of seniors led Winthrop from JV status to the double-digit wins and a postseason appearance in 2016-17, the program’s first since 2011.
On the court, though, there was a trio of freshmen that was just as important to the Ramblers success last season: leading scorers Kena Souza and Aaliyah Wilson-Falcone and point guard Jillian Schmelzer.
“They have a really strong summer, and they’ve had a good preseason,” fifth-year coach Joe Burnham said. “They’re doing all the things that we want them to do. We’re looking for them to kind of step up.”
He says a fourth sophomore, Natalie Frost, is probably the most improved player over last year.
“Our sophomores are going to keep the bulk of our scoring this year,” Burnham said.
If health allows, Winthrop will probably start four sophomores and a junior, either Lane Audet and Katie Perkins.
The Rambles also will have senior Kathryn Ross, who was injured last season, and freshman Madison Forgue could make an impact off the bench.
Burnham and the coaching staff has talked with the players about increasing the team’s own expectations.
The Ramblers want to host a preliminary this year, win it and then make some noise in Augusta.
“And then be that team in the Civic Center,” Burnham said, “kind of like Old Orchard Beach last year, we’re looking to peak at the right time, and then do some really nice teams and catch some teams by surprise.”
Coach: Joe Burnham (fifth year)
Conference: Mountain Valley; Class: C South
Last year’s results: 11-8 (lost in preliminary round)
Returning athletes: Senior — Kathryn Ross; Juniors — Kate Perkins, Layne Audet, Bre Feeney; Sophomores — Natalie Frost, Jillian Schmelzer, Aaliyah Wilson-Falcone, Kena Souza.
Key losses: Shie Smith, Adlin Chaparin, Matti Rice, Bri McClure.
Promising newcomers: Senior — Danielle McClure; Junior — Makayla Wilbert; Freshmen — Madison Forgue, Kerrigan Anuszewski.