After four-straight seasons of claiming the Skyland Conference Mountain Division title, the softball program has been moved up to the Valley Division. The timing could be a little tough for the Knights, as the team lost seven players to graduation last year, five of them all-conference selections.
Second-year head coach Mike Surella is not worried about the wins and losses, however: he cares more about the continual improvement of the girls’ standard of play.
“We want our players to be the best at skills that go beyond softball,” he said. “Effort, energy, focus, mental and physical toughness; that is what we are focusing on and we are going to hold ourselves accountable to. When you solely focus on wins and losses, that can sometimes hamper long-term growth. The move up in division will allow us to improve as we learn and will only help prepare us when we get to championship season and go back to playing schools our size.”
Despite the learning curve that might come up this season, Surella is still extremely confident in his squad. He has Claire Brouillard ’21 returning to the mound after an incredible freshman campaign in which she registered 144 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched and was awarded with 3rd Team All-Area honors.
Scooter Hulsen ’22 will serve as the catcher this season and Surella has already been extremely impressed with athleticism.
“Softball is such a defensive game that is really controlled by the pitcher and we are fortunate to have a great one who will really keep us in games,” Surella said. “Scooter is also a true talent; she does everything well and is really a five-tool player.”
Gill will also be relying on other key players to make another divisional title run this spring. Ellen Besjak ’21 (2B) is a returning all-conference selection and is a superb fielder and hitter. Madeline Ricciardulli ’21 has shown to have a great, steady hand at shortstop. Alyssa Jurewicz ’19 is new to the program but has already made solid contributions in right field. Fellow senior Avery Hohman will play third base and has improved throughout pre-season.
Captain Kerry Colford ’20 will be patrolling centerfield and is expected to provide pop in the lineup as well. She will provide strong leadership to the young team along with captains Ilana Druskin ’19 (1B) and Carolyn Herrlin ’19.
“We play an exciting brand of softball that is fun to watch, and when people come to games, they’ll see that,” said Surella. “Regardless of experience level, we are always going to give everything we have on gameday.”