Riding the momentum of a highly successful fall season, the St. Thomas Aquinas College Softball team enters the 2019 season with confidence and a roster loaded with experience and depth.
The Spartans open their exciting spring season by visiting the University of New Haven for a non-conference doubleheader on Friday, March 1. They will then embark on a 10-day, 12-game trip to Florida to face some of the top teams in the northeast.
"This team demonstrated its potential in the fall season and now seem poised for a successful spring season," said Head Coach Kristen Sullivan. "I am very pleased with their offseason training and preseason practices. We have a very challenging schedule but this is a very mature and well-rounded team."
Sullivan leads her team into the season with a deep and talented pitching staff. Newcomer Adrianna Dilal, a junior transfer from Kutztown State, had an outstanding fall campaign on the mound and as a hitter and will have an immediate impact. Returning seniors Colleen Borum and Briana Keaveney each have three years of quality experience. Borum has been the team's top winner the last two seasons. Sophomores Paige Toothaker and Kaitlin Hoffner will also contribute in the circle.
"So much of success in college softball can be traced to starting pitching and I feel very good about our staff," said Sullivan, one of the college's best all-time pitchers. "We have a nice combination of power and finesse pitchers."
The team's senior leadership will play a key role this season. In addition to Borum and Keaveney, who earned second-team All-Conference honors last year, catcher Amanda Leone can be one of the premier players in the conference. She is an established power hitter and a highly skilled catcher.
Fellow seniors Caitlyn Francoeur (second base) and Kelcy McGeehan (first base) accompany Leone and Keaveney (outfield) as returning starters. Francouer provides consistency on offense and defense while McGeehan is an important hitter who has adjusted well from moving from shortstop to first base.
Seniors Alyssa Farr, Monica Tran and Alyssa Chelak will compete for starting roles in the outfield along with juniors Melissa Sadler, Me'-Lani Kendle and Valerie Winalski. Ashley Landolina, a junior, will be one of the team's top players again. She has established herself as one of the conference best offensive players with a blend of power, speed and batting average. She is also an excellent shortstop. Landolina, McGeehan and Farr are the team's captains.
"I will have many options offensively this season," said Sullivan. "Keaveney, Landolina, Leone and Dilal and McGeehan will anchor the lineup and I can complement them with players who can add speed, power and solid hitting."
The team has five promising freshmen – Amanda Castro, Kim Astrologo, Nicolette MacDonald, Lauren Christensen and Sarah Williams. Castro, Astrologo, Williams and sophomore Elise Oliande will vie for playing time at third base while MacDonald and junior Taylor Sullivan (first base) will provide valuable infield depth.
Sophomore Morgan Santora and Christensen will spell Leone at catcher.
The Spartans will again compete in the East Coast Conference, one of the top leagues in the NCAA Division II circuit. Last season, STAC's fifth place finish was its best in at least a decade and its nine conference wins were the most since 2011. LIU Post and Molloy are considered the teams to beat in the conference according to the coaches preseason poll.