CSJ softball eager for regular season start

CSJ softball eager for regular season start

College of St. Joseph's softball team kicks off their 2018 regular season this week with five games in Cocoa Beach, Fla. The Lady Saints' first contest is against Carlow University on Thursday, March 8 at 8:30 a.m.

CSJ's 2018 softball squad includes a complimentary mix of returning players and fresh faces. The senior class consists of starting pitcher and co-captain Jenna Crowley, co-captain utility weapon Shelby Fenton, and outfielder Ashley Vasas, who recorded 13 runs, six RBIs and five stolen bases in 2017. The junior class, made up of Sierra Jaeger and Katie Jenkins, will also provide key leadership this year. Jaeger, CSJ's tarting shortstop, made pivotal contributions last season as she posted a .468 batting average, 34 RBIs, 26 runs and seven stolen bases. Jenkins held her own at first base last year and recorded a home run for the Lady Saints.

Infielder Kali Drum is the only sophomore on this year's softball squad. Last season she recorded 10 runs, 9 RBIs, and a home run for the Lady Saints. First year player Lena Tirotta has already shown her capabilities at the plate, recording the Fighting Saints' only home run in the fall ball season. Fellow newcomers Vanessa Quigley, Timell Montgomery and Arielys Rodriguez have also proved they can play, as shown in CSJ's five fall contests. Bre Morse and McKenzie Ebert complete the 2018 Lady Saints softball roster.

CSJ looks to draw momentum from a successful fall ball season. The Lady Saints went 3-2 at the beginning of the school year. Their two losses were against New Hampshire Technical Institute, a 6-5 decision, and Southern Maine Community College, a 14-13 decision. Each team had success at the plate, with SMCC recording 18 hits and CSJ tallying 13. Find full game recaps of the nail-biters at csjfightingsaints.com .

In their first game of the fall season, a convincing 9-2 win over SMCC, the Lady Saints saw offensive contributions from nearly every player on the roster. Crowley, Tirotta and Quigley led the charge with a double apiece. Crowley (one hit), Quigley (two hits) and Fenton (one hit) recorded two RBIs and Tirotta (two hits) notched one RBI. Each player aforementioned recorded a run. Jaeger was the only Lady Saint to cross home plate twice for CSJ and record a hit. Vasas and Jenkins provided a run and a hit, respectively, and newcomers Montgomery and Rodriguez had one hit and one run.

CSJ next rolled over rival NHTI 3-1. Each team notched seven hits apiece, but the Fighting Saints were able to build a 2-0 lead after five innings and hold off the Lynx for the final two innings of play. Fenton hit a double and scored one run. Quigley notched two hits and two RBI's to provide a spark for CSJ. Rodriguez scored two runs and recorded one hit. Vasas, Crowley, and Tirotta also notched one hit for the Saints.

The Fighting Saints' third fall ball victory came over Great Bay Community College on Sept. 23. CSJ outhit the Herons 12 to five. GBCC was the first to score a run in the first inning, but the Saints took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second and never looked back. The Saints scored three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, as well, to seal the win. Senior captains Fenton and Crowley both went 3-for-4 at the plate, with Fenton recording two runs and Crowley tallying one run and one RBI. Tirotta had two hits, two runs and two RBIs. Montgomery recorded a hit, a run and two RBIs and Quigley notched one hit, one run and one RBI.

On Thursday, the Lady Saints will put months of practice to the test against Carlow University. Two years ago, Carlow posted a 30-14 record and advanced to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Tournament, where they finished the season as the national runners-up. In 2017, Carlow again made it to the National Tournament championship game, wherein they finished second. The Lady Saints face three-time defending USCAA National Champions St. Mary of the Woods College in their next two consecutive games, on Thursday, March 8 at 11:30 a.m. and Friday, March 9 at 8:30 a.m. The Pomeroys return now-junior Hollie Jones, who was awarded MVP in the 2017 USCAA National Tournament. Last year she hit .439, drove in 15 RBIs and scored 49 runs with the help of 34 total stolen bases.

Also on Friday, CSJ takes on Martin Luther College at 11:30 a.m. In 2017, the Knights went 13-22 overall. MLC returns six starters, including senior infielder Megan Lemke, who was awarded First Team All-Conference recognition in 2016. The Lady Saints play the final game of their Florida tilt on Saturday, March 10 against Sinclair College at 8:30 a.m.

CSJ went 7-5 in Yankee Small College Conference play last year and 7-16 overall. The long weekend in Florida provides ample opportunity to earn out-of-conference experience and victories.