Philadelphia, Pa. - It will be a new era of Holy Family University softball in 2013.
Holy Family will look to return to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Tournament again this season after earning the eighth seed last season.
The Tigers finished 21-26 overall and 13-13 in the CACC last year to advance to the postseason for the first time under third year head coach Davon Ortega. Holy Family returns 13 players from a year ago, including seven starters. The team will also welcome four newcomers to the mix. According to Ortega, the team is ready for what she predicts to be one of the most exciting seasons for the program.
“The 2013 season should prove to be one of the most exciting seasons for Holy Family softball,” said Ortega. “The team has a new mentality and new leadership and after getting a taste of winning in last year's CACC Championships and the addition of a strong freshman class, the expectations are much higher. The 2013 team is much stronger and more mentally focused.”
Holy Family went 1-2 in last year's CACC Tournament, including a 5-4 loss to top-seeded Dominican College in the opening game that went eight innings. The Tigers defeated No. 4 Wilmington, 8-5, before being eliminated by No. 7 Felician College, 10-2.
Holy Family will feature an experienced pitching staff this season, including three juniors and a sophomore. Junior Victoria Reuscher (Cheltenham, Pa./Little Flower HS for Girls) is coming off a career year that saw her log 167 innings and career-highs in strikeouts (35), wins (11), earned run average (1.93) and complete game (20). Reuscher finished last season with the third lowest ERA in the CACC. The Tigers will also welcome back junior Rachael Alligood (Levittown, Pa./Harry S. Truman) who earned All-CACC honors for the first time in her career after being named Honorable Mention. In 21 games, Alligood recorded a career-low 3.62 era and finished the season 5-4 to improve to 13-13 in her career.
“Our first key to success this season begins in the pitching circle,” said Ortega. “Over the last two seasons our pitching has been inconsistent and we have primarily relied on one pitcher to get us through the season. Our goal on the mound this season is to have a highly effective pitching “staff” and not rely on the arm of just one of our pitchers. Our staff is more experienced and all have seen what it takes to pitch successfully at this level and in our conference. All four pitchers added some velocity in the off-season and their experience will stabilize their mental toughness to put us in a good position to win games.”
Holy Family will also feature junior Samantha Borrelli (West Berlin, N.J./Overbrook) and sophomore Sarah Chilutti (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Ryan) in the Tigers' rotation.
Behind the plate managing the pitching staff will be senior Deanna Myers (Warminster, Pa./William Tennent) who returns for her fourth season. Myers batted a career-high .259 after collecting 29 hits, five doubles and five home runs last season. She enters this season ranked second all-time in program history with 19 career home runs.
Myers will get some help this year and share the catching duties with junior Hayley Brennan (Frankford, Del./Indian River), sophomore Kristy Tomlinson (Philadelphia, Pa./Franklin Towne Charter) and freshman Claudia Boggi (West Chester, Pa./Bishop Shanahan).
“All four catchers have been working with the pitchers every step of the way through the off-season and preseason,” said Ortega. “The catchers have also established themselves as a staff that has not only challenged but kept the pitching staff inline with their goals. The preseason has seen the catching staff increasing their quickness and overall strength. The success for our staff will come from them continuing to learn to be more commanding of not only their pitching staff but of the entire infield.”
Just like last season the entire starting infield returns for the Tigers, which should give the team stability and experience all the way around. At third base the Tigers will return senior Lindsey Iden (Rushland, Pa./Council Rock North) to man the hot corner as well as freshman Kristine Casey (Newark, Del./Caravel) who will vie for playing time.
“Lindsey Iden (Rushland, Pa./Council Rock North) is expected to continue to provide us with stability at the hot corner,” said Ortega. “Kristine Casey (Newark, Del./Caravel) will provide tons of competition and will be on Lindsey's heels throughout the season, vying for time. A third baseman by trade, Kristine has the versatility and know-how to play anywhere she is needed so if both are consistent offensively, Kristine could easily play anywhere else on the infield, allowing us to have them both in the lineup.”
The middle infield will also have some competition both at shortstop and second base. Borrelli, who will also see time pitching, will be at shortstop and will be sharing the duties with freshman Alexis Daubert (Stratford, N.J./Sterling).
“Sammi stepped up at shortstop last season and her incredible arm strength has helped her to make some outstanding plays,” said Ortega. “Alexis adds a ton of depth and she will be competing for innings at shortstop and will be key at that position when Sammi is on the mound.”
At second base, Holy Family has a potential of four players filling the position, including senior Danielle McDevitt (Williamstown, N.J./Williamstown) who returns after leading the team in hitting with a .377 average. The Tigers also have the options of Casey, Daubert and Tomlinson to play second base.
“At second base, we have four players that will all be competing for innings,” said Ortega. “All of our middle infielders work and communicate well with each other so ultimately, innings will be decided based on hitting.”
Shifting to the right, the Tigers return junior Erin Corrado (Fair Hill, Md./St. Mark's (Del.)) to take on the first base duties. Holy Family will also have the flexibility to fill in innings with the addition of its other catchers. Myers will look to get a few innings at first as well as junior Hayley Brennan (Frankford, Del./Indian River).
“Erin will continue to be our anchor at first base,” said Ortega. “She has been such a tremendous presence in the infield and she just continues to make incredible plays at first.”
The outfield will be young for the Tigers this season, but will feature three strong defensive players. Freshman Alicia Alvarado (Palmdale, Calif./Paraclete) will be featured in left field, which will allow sophomore Kelsi Bunda (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury) to take over the duties in center field. Junior AnnMarie Dalton (Northampton, Pa./Northampton Area) will once again hold down right field.
“Our outfield is a combination of the hardest workers on our roster and by far, our strongest defensive asset,” said Ortega. “The job our outfielders do and did last season to keep us in games is underrated.”
Ortega continues, “Alicia will see the most innings in leftfield this season. She adds more speed to the outfield, which will allow us to cover more ground and track down more balls in the outfield as a whole. Kelsi will move from left field to anchor the outfield in centerfield and has already done a great job of establishing herself as a leader and keeping the outfield on their toes. AnnMarie will once again hold down the right field position. The position is difficult and Am has done a great job of learning how to read the ball off of the bat and to get herself into position to make some great catches and plays.”
Junior Valerie Miller (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) will be competing for innings in right field as well adding depth for the Tigers in the outfield.
“Valerie has been working hard on being a left and right-handed threat offensively and she will be competing for innings in right field where we can leverage her speed and athleticism to get to more balls.”
The designated player spot in the lineup can be filled by any one of the players on this year's roster according to Ortega. She does see Brennan having the upper hand as she continues to work her way back onto the field.
“Any one of our players could see themselves put into the designated player position,” said Ortega. We have a lot of solid bats and in order for us to maximize our output, we may have to move players into the designate player position.
Ortega continues about Brennan, “Hayley is an outstanding line drive, up-the-middle hitter and is great in clutch and pressure situations so we plan to leverage her talents however we can.”
Holy Family will begin its season with its annual Florida trip in which the Tigers will face ten non-conference opponents during the six-day stretch beginning March 3 and concluding on March 8. The Tigers will be competing in the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee.
“Our schedule is more competitive this season,” said Ortega. “We have added some new teams to the schedule and we have also requested to play stronger programs, primarily in Florida. Several teams on our schedule started the season ranked nationally (Kutztown, Indianapolis), while several others earned national votes or regional rankings. This will give us the opportunity to see where we stack up against some of the best teams. If we want to be the best, we have to play the best.”
When the team returns north, the Tigers will face Bloomsburg University in the home opener on Tuesday, March 12. The Tigers will host their home games at Helen Randle Park in Newtown. The first CACC match up of the season is slated for four days after the home opener as the Tigers host Nyack College on Saturday, March 16.
Holy Family will face seven non-conference opponents during the course of the year, including three at home and four on the road. On top of the non-conference schedule, the Tigers will also face 13 conference opponents.
Holy Family will be tested this season, both in conference and out of conference. However, if the Tigers stay focused and consistent they will find themselves back in the CACC Tournament come May. Holy Family was recently selected to finish eighth in the conference according to the annual CACC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
“To be successful and get ourselves back to the CACC Tournament this season, we need to continue to focus on our process and playing our game consistently,” said Ortega. “We need to be in attack mode and play aggressive every single game. The key to getting back to the postseason is to mentally stay strong throughout the entire season and find consistency as a team.”
- HFU -
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