By Chris Gionta
There is one general emotion that is circulating the Springfield College softball team as the season approaches – excitement.
“I think it’s just awesome to be preparing for a full season,” said Springfield head coach Kate Bowen.
Without any games played in 2020 and only 14 in 2021, the team is now preparing to play 40 regular-season games and is hopeful to play more after.
Along with the excitement for a return to a regular playing schedule, there are new experiences to be had for many players on the roster.
“I think it’s really new to a lot of the players on our team because we have — if you think about it — our first-years, sophomores, and juniors have never had a full season, never had an away season, don’t know what it’s like to go on spring break to Florida,” said Bowen. “So, I think it’s going to be a really interesting season getting back into it.”
The Pride is coming off a successful 2021 season in which it went 9-5 and made it to the NEWMAC Championship. The overwhelming majority of the team’s contributors are returning and are ready to outdo what they did last year.
Remaining at the top of the lineup for Springfield will be senior outfielder Mackenzie Doyle. Last season, she hit .424 in 33 at-bats while only striking out once, and added seven stolen bases on nine attempts on the base paths.
Right behind Doyle will likely be sophomore second baseman Alli Olsen, who made a great impact in the eight games she played last year. She hit .385 and slugged .538 in 26 at-bats and did not strike out a single time. Olsen was also able to lead the team in runs scored despite missing six games.
Another solid contributor to the offense is also a key member of the pitching staff, with that player being senior Gillian Kane. She hit .333 with a .429 on-base percentage in 28 plate appearances, while also recording a 4.01 earned run average in 36.2 innings pitched.
The ace of the staff in 2021 was first-year Ashley Pugliese, who is looking to dominate her first full collegiate season in 2022. Last year, she completed all four games in which she started, which included two shutouts along with a 13-strikeout performance against Wheaton. Overall, she struck out 38 batters while only walking eight in 38.0 innings pitched, and sported a microscopic 1.11 ERA.
Pugliese, Kane and sophomore Emily Gell combined for a productive pitching trio in 2021, and have the opportunity to work together again this season. Bowen is particularly excited to have them back for their situational versatility.
“It’s awesome that we have three pitchers that can all start a game, and all come in and relieve,” said Bowen.
The team’s opening games will be at Potter Field in front of spectators for the first time since 2019. The season starts with a doubleheader on March 5 against Worcester State, and will then transition to Florida for spring break, with games starting on March 13.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics