Improvement is the theme this season for the Greenwich High School softball team, which has the potential to climb the ladder of success in the always competitive FCIAC.
“We’re going to be very young, we have one senior captain and one junior captain,” Greenwich coach Mary Beth Fratello said. “We have two freshman pitchers coming in and the rest of the team is going to be freshmen and sophomores. We’re looking for improvement, we have very good athletes.”
The Cardinals registered a record of 13-9, qualifying for both the FCIAC and CIAC Class LL tournaments in 2019. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and when the team returned for its 2021 season it had a new-look roster with numerous first year players. With a young, inexperienced team, Greenwich struggled early in the season and got better as it progressed. The Cards only posted one win in 2021, but lost several close games, including a 2-1 decision to Wilton and a 10-8 result against Norwalk.
“We had girls that had a whole year off (due to the COVID-19 pandemic),” Fratello said. “It was tough just getting used to the high school and then coming in going from playing as a seventh grader and then starting in varsity. They were like a deer in headlights.”
Fratello believes last spring’s experience helped the underclassmen get ready for what they will face this season.
“It made them realize they had to step it up, this is not rec ball it’s not fall ball,” she said. “At least by the end of the season, we were competing. We weren’t getting blown out and we were hitting.”
Senior Madison Murphy and junior Ciarra Castro are the Cardinals’ captains. Murphy is a center fielder and Castro is the Cards’ starting left fielder.
“We are looking for more this year and we are going to rely heavily on Madison and Ciarra,” Fratello said. “They are the older ones on the team and they’ve played competitive travel, so they’re experienced.”
Besides leading the team in the field, Castro and Murphy will be looked upon to power the lineup from the middle of the order.
“Our lineup right now is fluctuating, we’re trying to adjust,” said Castro, who is slated to bat fourth in the lineup. “I think our hitting has gotten a lot better. Not only have the captains improved, the team has. We’re practicing, we’re out here trying to improve our hitting with the pitching machine.”
Greenwich has scrimmaged Stamford, Westhill, Brookfield and New Milford and opens its season with an 11 a.m. home game tomorrow against New Fairfield. The captains have tried to help prepare the team physically and mentally for the upcoming season.
“One of the biggest things in terms of our strengths, is communication,” Murphy said. “We’ve had great connections in the past, but with these girls that we have now it’s very much a young team. These girls need to know what it’s like to play at the varsity level. We all need to step it up and we all need to communicate, we can understand what our weaknesses are and work together with our other teammates and grow together and be able to diminish those weaknesses.”
Murphy believes the players who were on the roster last season took a lot out of the season.
“Softball is all mental you have to be able to learn from your mistakes and go through them and battle,” she said. “If you make a mistake one game you can keep improving.”
Graduation claimed All-FCIAC, All-State selection Olivia McClammy from last season’s squad. She is playing softball at Swarthmore College. Kayla Darling, who was the team’s starting pitcher, graduated, along with Chloe Smith, who played first base.
Greenwich will rely on freshmen Cameron Clark and Sophia Blois to fulfill the pitching duties.
“They have been working hard in the offseason, they have pitching coaches,” Fratello said of her pitchers. “They are young, so it will be an experience for them. As long as we play defense, we should be OK.”
Sophomore Megan Geiger starts at first base, sophomore Mia Gangi plays third base, sophomore Kate Friedman is an infielder, as is Kayla Ng. Patrolling the outfield with Murphy and Castro will be junior Kate D’Andrea and Nina Clark. The Cards know they must play sound defense to compete in a conference that includes strong squads such as Fairfield Ludlowe, St. Joseph, Staples, Trumbull, Stamford, Fairfield Warde and Ridgefield.
“It’s going to be a long haul, because we are so young,” Fratello said. “If we can play defense and hit, we can compete in each game. We don’t want to get blown out, if we can make states that would be great.”
Said Castro: “The younger players on the team are starting to get it and realize they have to practice hard to show up for the next game. The girls on this team have the potential, it’s just a matter of adjusting.”
Said Murphy, who will attend the United States Coast Guard Academy: “I think we’re very much a family. We had a younger team last year, but that allowed us to build bonds.”
Fratello’s varsity coaching staff includes Erik Caraballo and Erica Ambrogio.
“Our head coach, Mary Beth, is like a second mom to me and is a great coach and Erik has taught me so much,” Castro said. “Erica is amazing. They are all great coaches.”
Categories: Greenwich High, Spring sports
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