Replacing a dominant pitcher like Olivia Brocato is never easy. The recent Bryn Mawr grad won 38 games during her softball career with the Mawrtians, guiding them to the 2009 crown and the 2010 title game.
Yet Bryn Mawr coach James Brown has a plan to fill the vacancy and keep it in the family at the same time by shifting last year's starting catcher, rising sophomore Auburn Stephenson, to the pitcher's circle and tabbing Brocato's younger sister, Robin, to take over behind the plate.
Brown has a ton of confidence in both players, considering they are the only current Mawrtians playing club softball this summer.
Stephenson suited up for the 16-U Cockeysville-based Maryland Black Ice and Robin Brocato played for the 14-U Forest Hill Heat in Harford County.
With Bryn Mawr moving up to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference next season, having his 2013 battery in place is key for Brown.
"I think that's awesome," Brown said. "I am actually blessed."
Stephenson isn't exactly a stranger to toeing the rubber. She backed up Olivia Brocato last spring and pitched in two games.
She also pitched on Bryn Mawr's middle school team.
Brown likes her potential, but says Stephenson will have to continue to hone her skills in the off-season to be more effective.
"She's got speed," Brown said. "She just needs to work on her pitching motion and throw it across the plate."
Brown said Stephenson is putting in the necessary work and displaying a first-rate attitude.
"Auburn is preparing herself to be the pitcher," he noted. "She knows the sport. She can pick up any position. She can learn anything."
Stephenson is being groomed by Olivia Brocato's old pitching coach, Dan Funk, who, she said will help her "work on (my) accuracy more than speed."
Stephenson said she understands it won't be easy being compared to Olivia Brocato.
"I know I won't live up to her status," she said. "I just want to be a pitcher and do my best."
She's already done quite well at the plate, finishing with a .500 batting average last spring.
She also turned in a solid season with the Black Ice, batting .321 and finishing with a .406 on-base percentage while playing third and short.
"I focused on third base and catching," said Stephenson, who didn't pitch for the Black Ice. "I have played third base for a really long time. I am just refining my skills."
Like her sister, Robin Brocato has the potential to be an all-star at Bryn Mawr.
She's played softball for nine years, including six for the Heat. Brocato hit .400 this summer and compiled an on-base percentage of .600.
"She will have a big impact," Brown said. "She is solid offensively and defensively."
Brocato isn't worried about her statistics. She just wants to fit in with the Mawrtians.
"I just want to earn the respect of the team first and then try to get better and better," she said.
With Brocato and Stephenson getting plenty of action in summer ball, their hitting could be sharper in 2013.
"Hitting is the main thing with us moving up to B Conference," Brown said. "Having them play club ball will help."