Gill St. Bernard's School had an eventful spring softball season in 2023, under the guidance of Coach Mike Surella. The team finished with a record of 9 wins and 13 losses, including a 4-4 record in their conference. Despite a challenging schedule that included matches against five top 20 teams in the state, GSB managed to hold their own and gained valuable experience for the future.
One notable aspect of the team was its youth, with only three seniors and seven freshmen comprising the roster. Limited experience at the high school level contributed to some close losses, with six games decided by just one run and two more by a margin of two runs against formidable opponents like N Hunterdon and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Individually, several players stood out with their outstanding performances throughout the season. Freshman Jillian Cianfrocca was a force on offense, leading the team with 37 hits, including four home runs, and finishing the season with an impressive .500 batting average. Junior Brooke Baisley achieved a significant milestone by recording her 100th hit, making her only the fifth player in school history to accomplish this feat. Her 27 hits this season brought her career total to 107, placing her just 18 hits behind the all-time GSB hits leader, Scotter Hulsen, as she enters her senior year.
The team's senior captains, Elise Cantu and Vanessa Mavraj, also had notable contributions. Cantu recorded 27 hits with a .387 batting average, while Mavraj drove in 18 runs throughout the season. Both seniors were selected to participate in the Skylands Conference Senior All-Star game on June 15, with Coach Mike Surella serving as an assistant coach. Another senior captain, Emma Moussally, provided solid defense at third base throughout the season.
The team's pitching duo of freshman Layla Francisco and Emily Titsworth proved to be reliable assets in the circle. Together, they combined for 116 strikeouts while keeping their opponents to an average of less than 4 runs per game.
There were two standout moments during the season. First, the team successfully defended their Prep B Championship title, which is always a significant achievement. Additionally, witnessing Brooke Baisley reach her 100th hit was a memorable milestone for the team.
Coach Surella expressed pride in the fact that despite any disappointment with the overall results, several young players made significant contributions to the team's success. Freshmen Elia Titmas, Sammie Kalinak, Brynn McCarthy, and Lexi Kolenski all played important roles on both offense and defense. Although injured during the preseason, freshman Julianne Witte provided support from the sidelines. Sophomores Katie Lutz and Emily Titsworth, along with junior Julianna Perri, showcased leadership skills and consistent play throughout the season.
With a young and talented roster, the Gill St. Bernard's School softball program looks forward to building on their experiences from the challenging 2023 season and continuing to make strides in the future.