Softball looks to upperclassmen to replace graduates
Coming into this season with most of their statistical leaders having graduated, Seton Hall softball will depend on their experienced players to step up, as well as the nine freshmen joining the roster.
Nalin Bennett, Stephanie Bontales, Jamie Gates, Michelle Reed and Brittany Schillizzi all graduated last spring, and they produced more than 25 percent of the Pirates’ runs all season.
“Our upperclassmen need to step up,” head coach Ray Vander May said. “Our juniors and seniors are experienced, and experience is a key part of being successful at this level. We have a little saying this year, ‘It’s your ship.’ That means that each player is responsible for being a leader and contributing.”
Seniors Kristen Kaelin, Nicole Loewenstein and Laura Canulli are three of the five returning starters available to take a leadership role.
“We are fortunate in that we return most of our infield and pitching,” Vander May said. “There are openings in the outfield, and I think we have some healthy competition for those spots.”
Loewenstein is the leading returner when it comes to offense hitting for a .265 average last season and driving in 11 runs in 42 games played.
Sophomore Meredith Henze will also be back in the lineup after hitting .265 last season and driving in 16 runs, tied for second on the team.
The pitching rotation includes three players from last year Juniors Hannah Hill and Brooke Tull, along with sophomore Jen Metzger.
Metzger led the team with a 3.94 ERA and had 13 complete games in 17 started last season.
Hill returns after leading the team with 24 starts and and pitching 127.2 innings, accumulating an 8-16 record with 12 complete games and one shutout.
Joining the three veterans are freshmen Kaylyn Sanbower and Casey Moses.
The freshmen class also includes outfielders Sam DeMasi, Sara Haefeli, Whitney Jones and Colltey Sheldon, as well as catcher and outfielder Danielle De Staso, catcher Allissa Kerr and sisters, first baseman Jordan Moses and pitcher Casey Moses
“We have experienced pitching coming back, and they are all working very hard,” Vander May said. “I have seen major improvement in all of them this fall, including our freshmen. The potential is there. I look for them to mature and pitch with more confidence this year.”
Vander May added that the main goal is for the team to improve and develop the softball program in order to be a successful team after finishing last seaosn with a 16-35 overall record and 3-19 record in the Big East.
The Pirates begin play on Friday, Feb. 17, as a part of the Longwood Tournament in Longwood, Va., where they will take on Longwood (twice), Army and St. John’s over two days.
Stephanie Vedral can be reached at email@example.com.