Today: Jul 17, 2024

Softball ready to go after 42-win season

Matt Borelli, Staff Writer:

Being ranked number one in the preseason conference poll and being ranked high in nearly every poll, the Southern Lady Owls softball team has high expectations. 

“Goals are high, we want to win the conference, make it back to the NCAA tournament and win it all,” said head coach Lisa Barbaro, who is in her seventh season at the helm of the program. 

After posting a program record of 42-13 last season and making it to the NCAA East Regional Finals, the Owls will have a tough time topping that with a much younger squad this season. Despite being selected to win the Northeast-10 conference and receiving votes in the National Fast pitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll, the Owls have one senior and a cast of younger players who are ready to make a bigger impact. 

“We not only lost four strong ballplayers but we lost a lot of leadership,” said Barbaro, who is referring to losses of seniors from last season. “We have a younger group, but a lot of the core is returning. We are asking a lot more from our sophomore and junior class.” 

The 2011 Owls will have to replace the bat of Megan Caporossi, who left the school as the all-time leader in home runs along with Khristle Lee, who tied for the team high in hits last season. They also have to replace the strong arm of Kerry Iacomini, who posted a 12-1 record last season on the mound with a 2.04 ERA. 

The Owls do welcome back a strong core of players. 

Sophomore Kristin Whitely returns to second base duties after posting a .444 average in her freshman year. 

Sophomore Brittany Bucko returns as well after an impressive freshman campaign in which she scored 51 runs while registering a .351 average with 15 stolen bases at the top of the lineup. 

“We are expecting a big season out of everyone. We never had one or two stars, we always played well as a team,” said Barbaro, who also is the head coach of the volleyball team. 

The 2011 Lady Owls also welcome in two transfer students along with a strong freshman class. 

Andrea Tordanato, a sophomore infielder transferred from the College of Charleston, where she played soccer, and is making the switch back to softball. 

“It was a much different experience for me coming to Southern from my old school. I’d have to say is that Southern was better than I expected,” said Tordanato, from Hamden. 

“The team is very close and stick with each other even when off the field. The mind set of the team on the field is tremendous. Everyone has such determination and dedication.” 

Jillian Thibault, a junior, also steps in as a transfer from Mercyhurt North East (P.A) and likely will have the tough goal of replacing Caporossi at shortstop. 

“Jillian has fit nicely with the infield and we are expecting a really great year from her at the top of the order,” said Barbaro. 

The lone senior of the squad is infielder Robin Priest, who along with playing volleyball for four years, looks to put a good finish to her softball career. 

“Personally, I am sad but happy,” said Priest, a Cheshire native. “ 

I just want to have the best fielding and hitting that I have ever played. Play for the team and give it my best.” 

The Owls will rely on Jayme Larson and Brittany Hill on the mound this season, each of who pitched over 100 innings last season, with Larson winning 18 games. 

“Larson, Hill and (Jessica) Rosa will have a lot more innings,” said Barbaro. 

The Owls open their season March 6, when they travel to the New York Institute of Technology for a doubleheader. 

The home opener is March 11, when Dowling College makes a trip to Southern, where the Owls were 21-3 last season. 

“As a team we want to win the Northeast-10 like last year, and get back to NCAA regionals,” said Priest. “We can win it.” 

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