Greenwich High

Greenwich High girls softball team eager to make its mark in the competitive FCIAC

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right: Ciarra Castro, Mia Gangi and Megan Geiger are captains of the Greenwich High School softball team, which opens its season on Saturday with a home game against Weston.

Last season was one of challenges for the Greenwich High School softball team, which faced uphill battles against the formidable FCIAC foes it faced, with a squad featuring a number of underclassmen that were adjusting to competing at the varsity level.

This spring, the Cardinals are more experienced and after spending plenty of time in the offseason honing their skills, more prepared to compete against their FCIAC rivals.

They are also intent on qualifying for something they’ve missed out on recently – the postseason.

“We definitely want to qualify for the state tournament this year,” said Greenwich coach Mary Beth Fratello, who is beginning her 14th season at the helm. “Let’s see if we can be competitive in every game and keep it close against each opponent.”

The Cardinals, who are eager to rebound from a 3-17 finish in 2022, open their 2023 campaign with a home game against non-conference foe Weston on Saturday at 11 a.m. Greenwich defeated Weston on the road last season, 8-5.

Photo by David Fierro: Members of the Greenwich High School softball team gather with their coaches after a recent practice. Holding the balloons is varsity head coach Mary Beth Fratello, who celebrated her birthday this past Friday.

“I’m feeling really good, we have a good selection of girls here today and throughout the whole preseason so far,” said Greenwich senior outfielder Ciarra Castro, who is starting her second season as a team captain. “Everyone is hard working and ready to play. After a couple of rough years, we’re eager to start the season strong and these girls are putting in the hard work. I’m excited to work with them this year.”

Castro played mostly left field last spring and will be relied upon to lead the Cards both in the field and at the plate. She will look to bolster the middle of the lineup.

Juniors Mia Gangi and Megan Geiger also serve as the Cardinals’ captains. Gangi plays shortstop and Geiger will aid the squad’s defense at first base.

“I am really excited to help the infield out, I feel like I can help lead the infield,” said Gangi, who played third base last year. “I feel like we improved greatly since last year. Everyone has worked hard, they are putting 100 percent in during practices and hopefully, this season we can get some more wins.”

Members of the Greenwich High School softball team huddle up after a recent practice.

Geiger is primed for her role as one of the team’s captains and bringing her glove to first base.

“I’m really happy to be playing first,” said Geiger, who also played on Greenwich’s varsity basketball team during the winter. “I get to help lead the team and I get to be the quarterback in the infield. I’m kind of the eyes and I’m excited to be able to organize the team and to be a resounding force that’s calming, but also confident.”

Returning to the mound for the Cardinals are sophomores Cameron Clark and Sophia Blois, both of whom saw a lot of action in 2022. Fratello expects to see improved results from the pitching duo this spring.

“They are working extremely hard,” Fratello said of her pitchers. “We’ve seen some improvement with the velocity – they are working on some new pitches. But we need to get them into a game situation. We need to see them in the game situation. They are both sophomores returning from last year, so they gained some experience.”

Greenwich’s Megan Geiger gets ready to swing at a pitch during a softball game held in 2022. Geiger is one of the Cardinals’ 2023 captains. She’ll play first base and will be relied upon to lead the squad in the middle of the lineup.

Back behind the plate is junior catcher Campbell Clark, who was another GHS athlete who got accustomed to playing at the varsity level a year ago.

“She was our catcher last year and she is working hard defensively and offensively,” Fratello said of Clark. “She is the quarterback out there, calling the plays and knowing where we’re going on cutoffs.”

Casey Natale, a sophomore, has shifted from her shortstop position last season, to second base.

“She looks very comfortable there,” Fratello said.

At third base is sophomore Gianna Toscano, who was an outfielder last season and also served as a backup catcher. Clark, Geiger, Gangi, Toscano and Natale have the potential to give Greenwich a group of solid hitting infielders.

Photo by David Fierro: Sophomore Cameron Clark is one of Greenwich’s starting pitchers.

Production at the plate is an area the Cards are seeking significant improvement. There were some games in which they scored a good amount of runs, but they were also shut out nine times in 2022.

“Our offense struggled a little bit and that was kind of the force that was bringing us down,” Geiger said. “This year, we’ve been at the cages at Chelsea Piers and Bobby V’s (Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy) and we’ve been working with our coaches every day to try to figure out that strategy and attacking rather than be defensive. I think we’re going to be out there hitting the ball like we know we can do.”

“We’re fearless, we have nothing to lose and everything to prove,” Geiger continued. “The only way we can go is up.”

Castro leads the outfield, which includes Clark (when she is not pitching), freshman Leila White and junior Quinn Gavin. Juniors Genesis Ramos and Jenna Brown are each starting their first season on the varsity squad.

Photo by David Fierro: Ciarra Castro will look to lead the Cardinals at the plate and in the outfield.

Following its season-opener against Weston on Saturday, Greenwich travels to Stratford on April 3, then visits New Fairfield on April 8. The Cardinals return home on April 8 for a matchup against FCIAC foe Brien McMahon on April 11.

Greenwich will host FCIAC foes Fairfield Ludlowe (April 17), Staples (April 19), Fairfield Warde (April 24), New Canaan (April 28), Darien (May 11), Westhill (May 10), St. Joseph (May 15) and Stamford (May 17).

“We need to string some hits together and get some rallies going,” Fratello noted. “We needed to improve the defense, so we shifted people around and made some changes. If our pitching is on, we should be fine.”

Castro likes the togetherness the team has displayed during the preseason, leading into the regular season.

From left to right: Ciarra Castro, Mia Gangi and Megan Geiger are Greenwich’s softball captains.

“Our communication is getting very good and we have all established a great bond with each other,” Castro said. “Everyone is working really well. In softball, you have to have that connection and trust.”

Said Gangi: “I want to see us win a lot more games than we did last year. If the girls keep up the effort and keep working hard, we will win a lot more games.”

“It was a little bit of a difficult season last year, now we are ready to come back strong,” Castro added.

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