Softball Season Preview: Eagles Look To Keep Momentum Going After Record Breaking Season
Nashua – After setting new program records for wins in a season and earning their first trip to the postseason, the Daniel Webster Softball team will look to continue to move forward with a solid blend of veteran and new talent.
First year Head Coach Alex Hill welcomes the return of eight letter winners including five starters along with six newcomers, to a program that posted a 19-16-1 mark and placed third in the NECC Tournament last season. The Eagles open their campaign this coming Monday, March 15th as part of a five-game stop in Florida.
The Eagles first match-up will be against St. Joseph’s, Conn. in the Sunshine State, followed by a double header against the University of New England and end with a double-header against Farmingdale State. The Eagles will then see their first New England match-up on their home-field against Regis College March 20th at Noon.
Despite his first season with the program, Hill was forthright about his aspirations for the team. “The goal for this program every spring is to win the NECC and compete in the NCAA Tournament,” Hill said. “With the success that our returning players had in 2009, combined with the talent of our newcomers, I don't see why we can't achieve exactly what we set out to do. The team has been working hard over the last several weeks and I expect the hustle to translate into many wins.
“We have great chemistry,” Hill added. “The team competes together on the field and is supportive of one another even off the field. We hit the park everyday with positive energy and tremendous enthusiasm. There is never a dull moment.”
Last season the Eagles saw a program record five student-athletes named to the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) all conference team. Three return including Lauren Chesnulevich (Hudson, N.H.) who was named first team all conference at first base, Amanda Varricchio (Middletown, Conn.) who was named first team as an outfielder, and Amy Waller (Berlin, Mass.) who was named second team at second base.
Varricchio, a returning junior left fielder and last year’s team MVP, comes off the most prolific season by an Eagle in program history. Along with the NECC First Team selection, she capped the year earning spots on the ECAC regional all star team along with the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) New England All-Regional third team, becoming the first to be honored by either organization.
Hitting second in the lineup, Varrichio was the NECC’s batting champion with a .500 average and finished 10th nationally, while knocking in 11 and scoring 27. Once on the base paths, Varrichio was a consistent run-producing threat, going a perfect 17-for-17 in stolen base attempts. She went hitless in just three of 33 games and in left field and posted a .902 fielding percentage with only five errors in left field.
Chesnulevich, a sophomore, hit .271 overall (29-107) with three doubles, two triples and a home run, knocking in 21 runs, while scoring 26 and was 6-for-7 on stolen base attempts and will move from first to the mound this season.
Waller, also returning sophomore, was a devastating lead-off hitter throughout the season, hitting .419 (52-124) with a team best and league-leading 13 doubles along with one triple, knocking in 12, and scored a team best 40 runs. Her .419 average lead all rookies in the conference last year while adding a .558 slugging percentage and was 10 for 11 on stolen base attempts.
The Eagles will also have a strong group of leaders including three seniors in 2010. Erin Hurd (Centerville, Mass.) returns to the fold after a one-year hiatus. In 2008 as a catcher, Hurd hit .312 overall (29-93) and fielded .969 with only five errors.
Senior shortstop Kristina Reiger (Concord, N.H.) and pitcher Sarah Mason (Mays Landing, N.J.) also will return to round out the softball senior class. Reiger hit .314 overall last year with 20 RBI, four doubles and a triple.
Other returners include juniors Crystal Champion (Laconia, N.H.), Mikaelia Ramnanan (Rahway, N.J.), and sophomore Trista Commeau (Swansea, Mass.).
The Eagles will also look for development from a quality freshmen class including centerfielder Chelsey Crawford (Westfield Mass.), catcher/first baseman Kyla Palaschak (E. Bridgewater Mass.), third baseman and outfielder Julie Medeiros (Derry, N.H.), pitcher/infielder Lyndzie Priebe (Raymond N.H.), and catcher/outfielder Melissa Kelly (Hill, N.H.).
Picked fourth in the NECC preseason poll, the Eagles will host six doubleheaders including their home opener with Regis, along with visits from Fisher College, Mitchell College, Bay Path College and Lesley University.
Road trips include visits to St. Joseph’s, Conn., Johnson & Wales, Elm College, Southern Vermont College, Wheelock College and Newbury College.