Lady Rams head softball coach Jeanine Maiolini wasn't happy that the regular season was starting so soon because her team hadn't had a chance to play any of its pre-season scrimmages due to the inclement weather while the chill and ill winds restricted them to mostly practices indoors.
As it turned out, she was right to be unhappy because her Lady Rams opened their season away Monday (3/25) with a 16-1 loss to Yorktown.
The less said about that game the better, best remembered as forgotten which is not to say that Maiolini didn't see that loss coming.
Lack of scrimmages
Her team simply didn't have enough practice in game situations because their pre-season scrimmages were rained out and batting practice just isn't the same even when Lady Ram pitchers threw against the potential starting lineup.
"The most upsetting part is that I have yet to have one team practice with all my players there, and that makes it very hard to work on team defense and coverages etc.," said Maiolini shortly before the Yorktown game.
"We only have a roster with 13 players, and with one player out injured, that brings us down to 12 and that simply isn't enough to get the job done," she said.
Lady Ram positives
On the plus side, she said the hitters looked good and the defense was shaping up, or at least they were until the actual game against the Huskers.
"The team understands they have a long journey ahead of them and are willing to do whatever it takes to get better even if that means coming to practice early or staying late after practice to get some work in," Maiolini said.
She did like some of the things she has been seeing in practice, however, from the way Kayla Zuccarelli has been working hard behind the plate to fill in for All-League senior catcher Kyah Kramer to the power hitting of All-State junior infielder Brooklyn (BK) Ostrowski to the all-around play of former pitcher Jenna Yusi at third base.
The coach thinks that more practice may not make the Lady Rams perfect, but it certainly will help. Especially if they pick up the pace.
Looking for commitment
"I'm hoping for more commitment moving forward," Maiolini said of a team that is certainly a lot better than they looked against Yorktown.
Especially with a starting lineup built around Yusi, pitcher/centerfielder Madison (Madi) Ostrowski, an All-League player and All-Section Honorable Mention as a freshman last year, senior Brianna Zuccarelli and BK Ostrowski at short stop after switching from centerfield because the team needed her there and junior right fielder Gabriella Kessler. Junior Samantha (Sam) Florino is a solid designated hitter. Sophomore Sofia Otero looks set at second base while junior Stacey Rosenfeld looks capable of covering a lot of ground in left field.
Maiolini is counting on sophomore pitcher Adrianna Sherwood, who started for the junior varsity last year, to come through on the mound along with Madi Ostrowski who has volunteered to be converted to pitcher to help give the team more pitching depth once the regular season really gets underway and the games start following one after another.
The sked ahead
The season will start to pick up steam, and hopefully so will the Lady Rams, during their next scheduled home game Friday (3/29) against New Rochelle with another home game Tuesday (4/2) against North Rockland, both at 4:30 p.m. Next come Arlington and Eastchester, both away, Thursday (4/4) and Saturday (4/6) at 4:30 p.m. and 11 a.m. respectively. That makes four tough teams in a row, so the schedule isn't doing the Lady Rams any favors.
But at least Maiolini will know a lot more about her team after all that game experience. How they do once they shake the rust off after all those pre-season scrimmage cancellations will go a long way towards determining whether Maiolini and her Lady Rams have a shot at making the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season or not. So aficionados have their collective fingers crossed that the Yorktown game was just an aberration and the Lady Rams still have time to straighten up and fly right.