By Alice Roche Cody
GSB's softball squad has every element needed for a standout season: athleticism, power, and speed. Head Coach Michael Surella is optimistic about his varsity team's prospects.
"We have every skillset to be successful," he said. "With 13 players, we have 11 who are experienced club players. Many have never been on a varsity high school team, but I'm confident that what I see on paper will play out on the field."
His roster includes six seniors, three of whom will pitch in college: Rachel McQueen '21 committed to Haverford, Erin Barno '21 committed to Montclair State, and Co-Captain Claire Brouillard '21 remains undecided with multiple offers. The commits don't stop there. Catchers Scooter Hulsen '22 committed to Muhlenberg, and several other players are being actively recruited.
"Given our overall experience and pitching depth, I expect we will be very competitive in the Skyland Conference," said Coach Surella. "We have three uniquely different pitchers that complement each other. A mix of hard throwers and finesse that will keep teams off balance." For stats, All-Conference player Claire Brouillard logged 240 strikeouts and only 14 walks her first two GSB seasons. Promising new pitching talent includes Rachel McQueen, clocked at 60 mph, and Erin Barno, who also throws 60 mph and has a devastating curveball with a rubber arm. "Rachel complements her fastball with a knee-bucking change-up, and Erin uses a hard-breaking curveball as her out pitch," he added.
This spring, Surella's team has a blend of old and new players. Returning athletes Scooter Hulsen, who made Second Team All-Conference and led the team with 28 hits and 12 stolen bases; Co-Captain Ellen Besjak '21, Second Team All-Conference with 25 hits last year; and Co-Captain Maddie Ricciardulli '21, a solid short stop. Other new athletes include Phoebe Kirsh '22, a power-hitting utility player; Vanessa Mavraj '23, another power hitter who plays third and catcher; Brooke Baisley '24, a super-athlete; Jess Cooper, yet another power hitter; and Julianna Perri '24, a solid defender who plays several positions. Amelia Tobey '21 and Stephanie Vasquez '22 round out the roster by adding depth.
And as for past players, Kerry Colford '20, an All-Conference standout, attends West Point, and Danny Towle '18 takes the field for Providence College.
Coach Surella, who coached at GSB the past four years and serves as softball director for In the Zone in Flanders, looks forward to the upcoming season, especially games against formidable opponents including Somerville, Delaware Valley, Bernards, Vorhees, Pope John, Warren Hills, and Pingry.
"We have an aggressive schedule with 22 games against some of the best teams in our area," he said. "We should be able to catch the ball and pitch enough to be very competitive in our conference and Somerset County."