Watching Olivia McClammy round the bases after hitting a home run was a familiar sight to the members of the Greenwich High School softball team and its fans during the spring of 2019, as she launched more than 10 homers.
McClammy couldn’t add to her Cardinals career home run total in 2020, since the season was cancelled due to the COVID-10 pandemic, but high school softball is back this spring and Greenwich’s power-hitting senior catcher is hoping to pick up where she left off as a sophomore.
Along with seniors Kayla Darling and Chloe Smith, McClammy is being relied upon to provide leadership to a Cardinals team that has plenty of underclassmen.
“It was definitely tough to sit out last year, but it’s great to be back playing again,” said McClammy, a four-year varsity player and two-year captain. “We are a young team this year, but we are practicing and improving every day. I think it’s going to be a good year.”
In 2019, Greenwich posted a record of 13-9, while qualifying for both the FCIAC and CIAC Class LL tournaments. The Cardinals lost to Trumbull in the opening round of the FCIAC Tournament, then was edged by Ridgefield, 13-12, in the first round of the state tournament, in a game that saw Ridgefield rally for three runs in the seventh inning. That season, McClammy was part of a powerful Greenwich lineup that included Sophia Prieto, Emma Beinstein, Julie Gambino, Michelle Morganti, Kelly Brogan, Charli Faugno and Katherine Walko, all of whom graduated in 2019. The 2020 team, which did not play a game due to the coronavirus crisis, included seniors Emmy Brazier and Violet Mikalopis.
This spring’s Cardinals roster features just three seniors – McClammy, Darling and Smith – one junior and a good number of freshmen and sophomores.
“We obviously have a very young team,” Greenwich coach Mary Beth Fratello said. “They need work, but they are all very coachable kids and I could see the improvement in them, even from the past week. We are a work in progress and right now, we are working on a lot of fundamentals.”
McClammy, who will continue her softball career at Swarthmore College next season, will be relied upon to power the team’s lineup in the middle of the batting order and to aid the squad with her defensive skills behind the plate.
“Olivia has been great at catching and hitting,” Fratello said. “I’m looking forward to seeing her this year as a senior. She had about 15 or 16 home runs her sophomore year. When we get those runners on base, we need her to move them around. Her leadership and experience will help us.”
The Cardinals catcher enjoys her role behind the plate.
“Being a catcher, you are involved in every play and you have to be a leader,” McClammy said. “Being able able to connect with all the players and helping them out is great. I’m very grateful to be a part of this program. Going to FCIACs and states sophomore year and having MB (Fratello) coach me all four years is awesome.”
Darling is in her third season as a member of the varsity team and this is her first season as the squad’s starting pitcher. She was one of the Cards’ outfielders two years ago as a sophomore.
“It’s a little bit of pressure, but it will be fun,” Darling said of her position on the mound. ” I love being a part of all the plays and it’s a big role in the game.”
Said Fratello: “Kayla will have to carry the load as our starting pitcher. She will probably pitch every game. She’s been working hard all off-season.
Greenwich’s starting pitcher is optimistic about the young team’s progress.
“Right now we’re doing a really good job of communicating and in the field we’re getting a lot better,” Darling said. “It seems like a lot of players have a good basic knowledge of the game.”
Smith, is also beginning her third varsity season. She should help anchor the infield from her position at first base.
“I think we have a strong infield,” said Smith, who will also be looked upon to spark Greenwich’s lineup. “I have a lot of confidence in our infield. We have been working on bunt coverage and the basics of throwing the ball and getting the basics down, so we can build up on that. It feels great to be back, last year was a bit of a struggle, but we adjusted to the way the world was working and now that we’re back it feels great.”
Added Fratello: “We’re looking for a lot of good things from Chloe. We need her bat in the lineup. When she gets hold of it, she can launch some home runs too.”
Erik Menchaca returns for his 12th season as a varsity assistant coach and Erica Ambrogio, joins the varsity coaching staff as an assistant. Ambrogio, a 2012 Greenwich High School graduate, was a standout softball player for the Cardinals. She played shortstop for the Cardinals and still holds the record for career hits with 111. Chrys Hernandez, who coaches Greenwich varsity girls basketball team, is the junior varsity coach, along with Nick Fesko.
Fratello is well aware of the significance of the presence of this season’s captains.
“These captains have been great so far, because we have a young team and they have been real good mentors so far to the young kids – the freshmen and sophomores,” Fratello said. “Not having a season last year, the sophomores and juniors never got a chance to play, so they have been doing a great job of mentoring these young kids and getting them through the first couple of days of tryouts and now practice.”
Freshmen Megan Geiger (third base), Mia Gangi (shortstop) and Kate Friedman (second base) join the Cardinals and are among the team’s infielders. Junior Madison Murphy and Ciarra Castro will be among the players patrolling the outfield for the squad.
“One of the things for us is communicating with each other, because it’s a whole new team,” Darling said. “As long as we are communicating and making sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do, we’ll do well.”
“We want to get our team dynamic down and work on getting the team to flow,” Smith said. We’re looking to go as far as we can and have fun.”
Greenwich opens its season with an 11 a.m. home game against Staples on April 10. After visiting Stamford and Fairfield Ludlowe on April 12 and April 14, the Cards will host Darien on April 16.
“The goals are always to make FCIACs and states and take it from there,” McClammy said. “But we know we have to take it one game at a time, one play at a time.”