Power, speed and confidence are just a few of the words used to describe this year’s softball team’s freshmen. As the weather starts to warm, the Harvard softball team will be looking for its freshmen to contribute to what is expected to be a successful season.
Last year, the Crimson fell just short of winning the Ivy League Championship in a single-run loss to Cornell. Harvard looks to make this the year that it takes it all.
The team lost six seniors at the end of last season, but it gained six talented freshmen that appear poised to help the team both offensively and defensively.
According to Harvard coach Jenny Allard, freshmen Jackie Cooley and Shelbi Olson add both depth and speed to an outfield that has already garnered Ivy League recognition.
On the diamond, newcomer Kasey Lange is slotted to get playing time at third base—a spot she earned with her prowess at the plate, not her glove.
“I feel like Kasey’s swinging her bat well,” Allard said. “We’re going to find a place for her in the lineup.”
Freshman pitcher Laura Ricciardone is poised to join a pitching rotation that already includes juniors Rachel Brown and Julia Moore and sophomore Jessica Ferri. The right-hander may potentially even be pitching to fellow freshman Allison Scott behind the plate.
“Ally is going to probably work herself into starting behind the plate at least 50 percent of the time,” Allard said.
Jessica Perillo, currently out with an injury, will round out the freshman infield when she returns to provide versatility in the middle infield. The hope is that this season, she will learn from senior first-team All-Ivy second basemen Ellen Macadam and junior middle infielder Jane Alexander.
The team’s four preseason games will allow the freshmen to not only just receive playing time but also let them to leave a mark on the field.
“We have a freshman class that was much like Rachel [Brown] and Whitney [Shaw] and Jane [Alexander]. They came in, and they were like, ‘We’re going to make an impact here,’” Allard said.
The upperclassmen on the team were able to get a taste last year of how successful the team could be, but none of them are resting on their laurels—especially thanks to the newcomers.
“The older girls are really pushing the team to challenge themselves this year. We are practicing and training harder than ever before, and even though Cornell lost a few people, we want nothing less than to win the Ivy League [title] for our senior captains,” Cooley said.
Facing a tough preseason schedule and non-conference games against ranked teams, the Crimson will have been tested even before it even reaches Ivy League play.
“It’s good that we have been challenged and are going to be challenged, because the Ivy League is very competitive,” Lange said. “We want to be prepared for when we get to the critical games.”