by BRANDON THROPE, Contributor
Coming off the best regular season finish in program history, the Manhattan College softball team is ready to pick up where they left off last season.
The season starts on Feb. 23 with a doubleheader in the Madeira Beach (FL) Invitational Tournament against Eastern Michigan and Arkansas. Their first home game will be a doubleheader against Hartford on March 6. However, coach Pardalis isn’t looking that far yet.
“Our goal is to win the first game and then win the second game and then go from there,” said Pardalis
The Jaspers will open up conference play on April 7 with a doubleheader against Fairfield at home.
“We are working hard right now in the offseason,” said captain Briana Matazinsky. “And we are looking forward to start playing. Three of our athletes are on the preseason all-MAAC team.”
Matazinsky is one of the players in that group in addition to Lauren Pitney and Shannon Puthe.
Pitney led the team in hitting with a .324 batting average and team-high seven home runs and 37 RBI. Puthe was second with a .295 average to go along with 27 stolen bases. Matazinsky finished with a .268 average, a 15-7 pitching record and a sparkling 2.09 ERA.
Last season, the team set a season-high 34 wins giving Matazinsky a good reason to have high goals for the team this season.
The reason why the program was so successful in 2017 was due to the variety of returning veterans (such as Matazinsky, Pitney and Puthe) as well as some incoming rookies.
In regards to rookies, none other made as big of an impact than Nicole Williams, who won the MAAC Rookie of the Year last season. She went 12-8 with a 2.04 ERA and recorded 122 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings.
“I think what Williams showed last season was that she can compete any day on the mound,” said Pitney.
The softball team wants to perform better in the MAAC tournament, as they lost two of three games before being eliminated last year.
Puthe reiterated the need for her and the other hitters to continue to perform, and to lead the team by example both on and off the field.
Five incoming freshman have joined the team ahead of the 2018 season. The five are: outfielder Emma Kindblom, who batted .613 during her senior year in high school; shortstop Gabriella Fredette, who scored 38 runs in 2016; catcher Daniela Chiorazzi, who was selected to the MSG Varsity first team in 2015; infielder Victoria Alonso, who was named a Journal News first-team All-Star; and infielder/outfielder Adriana Gambino, who participated in softball, shot put and volleyball in high school, winning many elite awards in softball and the MVP award in volleyball.
Pardalis expressed his thoughts on the team.
“We expect to stand up and win the MAAC,” said Pardlis. “I think it will be very difficult for [another conference team] to take more than two games from us.”
He then read from a list about a dozen players on his roster, and eventually stopped and said, “well, they’re all great.”