Assistant Sports Editor
Following a disappointing exit from last season’s NEWMAC tournament highlighted by a 8-5 eight-inning loss to eventual champion Coast Guard Academy, the Springfield College softball team is gearing up to make some noise in the spring of 2013.
This season, the Pride returns seven of 10 starters to their line-up, including senior captain Breann Joyce. In 2012, Joyce led the team in many categories, including home runs (10), runs batted in (38) and slugging percentage (.683). Joyce’s co-captain, senior Kelly Blake, proved strong for the Pride by finishing last season with the highest batting average on the team (.388) as well as a team-leading 54 hits and 18 doubles.
“They are just pure athletes and are so talented,” commented head coach Julie Perrelli. “They know the game inside and out. That in itself will be a major contributor to the team. Their positive attitudes and work ethic will be a major help.”
Alongside the two leaders, Springfield will field a solid core of returners. These include seniors Allison Clott and Chelsea Bender, as well as juniors Christina Leader, Ally Rivelli and sophomore Catie Holik. Following up a more than impressive sophomore campaign for the Pride, junior Ashley Marino will be returning to the mound to once again mow down the competition this season.
Marino, a product out of Harrison, N.Y., appeared in 22 games, holding opponents to a .208 batting average. With a record of 13-9 and earned run average of 1.69 in 2012, Marino will likely be the ace for the Pride this season.
“We are so lucky to have her (Marino) here. She is such a hard worker. Every day in practice you will never see her let up. She is just so talented,” said Perrelli. “The players on our team are in awe in the batter’s box when she can get the ball moving like she does. When they step in and see Ashley’s ball dancing, they think it is pretty cool.”
Accompanying Marino on the mound will be classmate Jennifer Joseph. As the second member of the pitching rotation for the Pride last season, Joseph posted an impressive record of 12-4, while also accumulating an earned run average of 1.63 through 19 appearances.
The Pride welcome a plethora of newcomers to the program this spring. The group of freshmen, including Jenna Webb, Elizabeth Joseph and Brielle Engelbrecht, will look to be solid contributors to Perrelli’s line-up this spring.
“Jenna Webb is just money with the bat. She can hit anything as an outfielder, so we have to have her in the line-up. Elizabeth Joseph, the sister of our pitcher Jen Joseph, is a catcher. She is strong and smart behind the plate, and Brielle is a local kid and can just flat out hit despite her size.”
Webb, also a native of Harrison, N.Y., had a strong senior season at Harrison High School prior to making the decision to come to Springfield. The lefty posted 10 home runs and a program-record 54 runs batted in during her final year for the Huskies.
The Pride will evade the brisk March weather of New England and travel south to Kissimmee, Fla. for 10 games to open the 2013 season.
Last year, the Pride had a successful trip to the Sunshine State, coming home with an 8-3 record. Although hopeful to repeat last year’s success, the Pride will face some tough regional opponents this time around.
“Gaining our confidence and figuring out what line-up we are going to use will be key in Florida,” added Perrelli. “Hopefully we are going to figure all of that out over the first 10 games. We are playing four regional games which really matter as far as end of the season rankings. We are just going to try and fit the puzzle pieces together while we are down there.”