Softball season preview

The softball team is beginning their season after a tough exit in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) finals last spring. 

After defeating Western New England University by a score of 7-1, the Hawks needed to defeat Salve Regina University twice in order to win the tournament. While RWU played in the semifinal game, the Seahawks of Salve Regina rested and watched to see which team they would play. Just minutes after the Hawks defeated the Golden Bears, they had to play again. A fresh Salve Regina team defeated the Hawks 3-0 and won the CCC championship.

This year, the Hawks’ roster graduated five seniors and now looks to replace them. Catcher Mikaela Grosso started for a majority of the season and will likely be succeeded by Micaela Pohl, who is now a junior. The Hawks also lost Meredith Moise, their leadoff batter, who produced a batting average of .377 last season. They will also need to fill the role in the outfield that Alicia McCauley had — including multiple game-saving plays.

The Hawks have put five freshmen on their roster this year — three less than last season. After losing pitchers from last season like Juliet Hulme and Maddie Reis, the Hawks are in need of reinforcement on the mound.

The current roster has four pitchers — three of whom are returning players who have another position they frequently play. The only one without the alternate position is freshman Ellie Fleming, who comes from Marshfield High School in Massachusetts where she was a three-time league All-Star.

Perhaps the biggest question for the team is the health of senior shortstop Haley Ledbetter, who underwent surgery on her left knee in early February after playing through the injury for the entire duration of last season. Ledbetter hit in the second spot last year and despite the injury, had a batting average of .354 while providing a fast glove and strong arm at shortstop. Her recovery time will conclude this Friday and she will take part in the team drills starting then.

“I’m feeling alright about my knee. It’s challenging not being able to practice fully these past few weeks,” Ledbetter said, “but I have a week to turn myself around and do what I have to do for my team to get ready.”

Head Coach Joyce Maudie also stated that during Ledbetter’s absence, some of the freshmen had filled her spot. However, Ledbetter’s domination at the shortstop position will be hard to beat when the regular season starts, and she believes she will play at least the majority of the games as long as she remains healthy.

The team will take its annual trip to Florida to play against teams across the nation, starting with games vs. Elizabethtown College and Dominican College on March 9. In the past, the team usually wins only a few games during the trip, but that does not worry them. The teams they play there are mostly of a higher caliber, so instead, the main purpose is to get the Hawks accustomed to the tougher teams in the CCC. 

Coach Maudie also stated that players will be rotated through their preferred positions on the trip. The rotation allows her and her coaching staff to see who gives the team the best chance to win when they return.

“I think our team will do very well this season. We have the spunk, tenacity and drive to win and I believe we will go far,” said Ledbetter.

The team has one definite goal in mind: winning the CCC. After their bitter defeat last season, they plan on making sure they don’t have to experience that feeling again. After the Florida trip, the Hawks will play their first game at home on March 20 against Coast Guard Academy.