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Softball team sets sights on GNAC Championship

by Claire Nobles / Beacon Staff • February 21, 2013

Nikki Delaney hopes to help her new team take the GNAC Championship.
Nikki Delaney hopes to help her new team take the GNAC Championship.

Emerson softball had an entire off-season to think about its last game of the 2012 season — a game where they had the championship title within reach. The team had the best record in the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference, but they were unable to come away with the win.

But the team is moving forward, adding five freshmen players to the remaining roster of seven juniors and three sophomores. Junior starting pitcher Alexandra Magistro said there’s only one thing on every player’s mind: winning the GNAC.

“Our theory since [the juniors] were freshmen has been to ‘Take Back the GNAC’ because we really just want that title,” said Magistro, a writing for film and television major. “Now we have nothing to lose.”

Brianna Bigelow, a freshman outfielder, said because there are no seniors on the team this year, the new freshmen have turned to the juniors for guidance.

“We have a lot of really strong leaders in our junior class who have all helped us,” said Bigelow, a journalism major.

Bigelow added that there is a some pressure because it’s the last season in the GNAC. Next year, Emerson is switching to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, or the NEWMAC.

“We’re going into this saying we’re going to win the GNAC,” Bigelow said. “I like that we’re able to be part of something so big early on.”

The new freshmen players are still adjusting to playing college ball, but head coach Phil McElroy said he thinks they will find their roles during the upcoming season.

“The freshmen are fitting in fine, and I think they’ll help us. It’s a matter of them finding their place on the field,” said McElroy. “I think that with our group this year, it’s basically the sophomores and the juniors, and then the freshmen hopefully will give us an added bonus.”

Freshman first baseman Wendy Eaton joined the team midway through the offseason after McElroy had approached her about playing earlier in the first semester. Eaton realized she missed the team atmosphere and joined the team.

Eaton, a journalism major, said the players, especially the juniors, were very welcoming and helpful.

The team heads down to Clermont, Florida, in a little over a week for their preseason exhibition games. They will play other Division III colleges from across the country at the National Training Center’s College Spring Games. 

Junior infielder Shannon Torosian, an animation major, said the trip will help out the freshmen.

“I hope they shake whatever nerves they may have,” said Torosian. “I hope they realize it’s just softball ... It doesn’t change just because we’re in college.”

According to McElroy, the preseason games hold many challenges for the team because they will be playing against tough competition. Torosian said it will be a good indicator of how the team will play throughout the season.

There’s only been one offseason scrimmage so far, and McElroy said he thinks there are still some areas to improve for games.

“I think the communication on the field will be something that we’ll have to work on,” said McElroy. “Softball can be an individual sport at times when you’re pitching or at bat, but it also is a team sport once the ball is put into play.”

Freshman outfielder Amanda Horton agreed with coach McElroy. She said the communication in the outfield is especially important.

Freshman Courtney Fee, a writing, literature and publishing major, said if the team is going to win the GNAC, they’re going to need winning attitudes.

“We have to want it more than anyone else,” said Fee, a second baseman. “Having that kind of intensity always is something we need to turn up a little bit.”

Looking past this season, Eaton said she thinks the team has a lot of promise.

“Next year we’ll also have a very strong year,” said Eaton. “I know that we have a lot of strong recruits that are looking at Emerson, so I think that even though we’re a young team, it’s a good thing for our future.”

The Lions’ first game is on March 3 against Moravian College of Pennsylvania. The home opener is a doubleheader on March 22 versus St. Joseph’s of Connecticut.