BY Dan Gardella
The Sacred Heart softball season was selected to finish fourth in the Northeast Conference (NEC) preseason poll. Last season, the team went 11-5 in conference play, which was second best behind Long Island University (LIU).
Head coach Pam London makes sure the preseason rankings get talked about, but not for long.
“We talk about them for two seconds to say let’s get rid of them. There is so much parity now that it is truly anybody’s game,” said London.
As the softball team prepares to begin their 2020 regular season this week, there is a bit of a “changing of the guard” feel in some areas of their team.
Last season, the team lost two of the best pitchers in program history in Kristen McCann and Emily Orosco to graduation. However, head coach Pam London believes there will be no drop off following the loss of McCann and Orosco.
“Shyanne [Fennell] and Colleen [Walsh] are ready. It’s a matter of them being able to handle the innings. They look good. This is their shot. The competition is fierce. I always say we have a pitching staff,” said London.
The team returns most of the core from last season’s team, including sophomore Amy Petrovich, who was named to the conference’s All-Rookie team and All-NEC Second team. Petrovich said that there was a learning curve adjusting to the college game, but she also had to become acclimated with a whole new position.
“I actually came in here as an infielder and Pam changed me to an outfielder. I think the biggest thing was adjusting to a completely new position,” said Petrovich. “College is a lot faster and more competitive. Playing with such a great group of girls that are also so good was a difference.”
In the middle of the Pioneer lineup, senior Katelyn Christian looks to follow up a career-year last season. According to Athletic Communications, Christian had a .282 average while leading the team with seven home runs and 37 runs batted in (RBI).
Following a career-year, Christian isn’t looking to change anything to her approach this year.
“Every year, I take what I’m given. I try to go hard and be aggressive. I think there is no difference this year. I’m just really excited to get out there,” said Christian.
Prior to the beginning of the season, Christian was named a co-captain along with graduate student Stephanie Mangiameli. Christian credits her leadership as a senior to learning from previous Pioneers before her.
“I feel like we have so many leaders on the team, from the freshmen up to the seniors. I have learned a lot from the upperclassmen when I was younger as far as being a captain and leading by example. It’s easy to lead with this group of girls,” said Christian.
London adds that throughout the preseason, she saw a great level of maturity in her team. She also expressed to her team that she wants them to get one percent better every day. London hopes that as the season begins, she will see the killer instinct within her team rise.
“The one thing about this team is that they are so close and they love each other. To be really mad and mean to each other in fun is hard. That’s the next piece of the puzzle. Can they go against people they don’t know and be mean?” asked London.
The team begins their season on Feb. 21 when they travel to Virginia to take on Radford University.