Sacred Heart softball enters their season as the fourth ranked team in the Northeast Conference (NEC) preseason polls. The teams sitting in front of them are the reigning NEC champions Saint Francis University (SFU), Long Island University (LIU), and Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).
Junior pitcher Olivia Vadas and senior catcher Alyssa Gonzales are two of the over 20 athletes that the Pioneers return for the 2022 season. Vadas is a Fairfield native and put together a team leading earned run average (ERA) of four as well as 56 strikeouts in 21 outings.
Despite her success, a new season means a new mentality to out-do her 2021 performance.
“Individually, it’s been a lot of working on technique during practice to make sure my mechanics are sound to carry me through the season,” said Vadas.
Gonzales is the reigning NEC Player of the Year. Her historic season culminated in setting a new Sacred Heart record for homeruns in a season with 17.
The program also brings in five new first-years as well as the addition of new pitching coach Kaysee Talcik. This is Talcik’s first career coaching job after a four-year career as a starting pitcher for the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
“She brings her recent experience pitching at the DI level and a fresh enthusiasm for coaching,” said head coach Pam London.
Vadas believes that Talcik will be a beneficial factor in her abilities this season.
“I think it’s always good to get a fresh set of eyes on things like mechanics and game plan,” said Vadas. “She’s been helping all of us a lot with getting our mindset game ready.”
Although the Pioneers finished fourth in the NEC last season, they were unable to make it past the first round of the NEC tournament after a 7-0 loss to SFU. They look to make a deeper run in the playoffs this season as they begin their campaign with a doubleheader on Feb. 18 against the University of Virginia and Charleston Southern University in the Charleston Southern Softball Tournament in Charleston, S.C.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.