Andover Softball kicked off its season with a red-hot six game winning streak and ended a six-day trip in Orlando, FL with a preseason record of 6-1. Five of Andover’s victories were won by at least 10. Andover’s opponents included Westminster School, Hopkins School, Paramus High School, The Hackley School, Lawrenceville and Newark Academy.
The team’s strong performance not only gave Andover hope for 2015, but it also instilled confidence in the girls. With more depth and talent throughout its roster, Andover has a good chance to improve on last year’s 7-8 record.
Head Coach Peter Drench said, “We were a young team in 2014, with only two Seniors on the roster. The main challenge for a young team is to achieve consistency and to avoid erratic play. We had our ups and downs. Our weaknesses, largely tied to inexperience, prevented us from getting better results.”
Captain and pitcher Ravenne Nasser ’15 has goals for the team that stretch beyond the regular season.
Nasser said, “We really want to be a team that works hard and hustles. We obviously want to win the Big East Tournament, and I think we are definitely capable of that especially if we keep improving. We already gel really well together and have some great additions to the team, so I think that we can make a run at the championship.”
Andover graduated two impact players last year, first baseman Katie Kreider ’14 and third baseman Kasey Hartung ’14. New players are filling their shoes, and upperclassmen are stepping into the leadership roles. Post-Graduate and shortstop Courtney Erickson ’15, pitcher Kristina Haghdan ’17, and second baseman Colby Beré ’18 are among the many new players that add versatility and experience to the team. The new players credit the trip to Florida for helping the transition to the team.
Beré said, “By playing together in Florida, we got familiar with each other on and off the field. We have created a team chemistry that continues to strengthen and will translate well onto the field when the regular season starts.”
This year, Andover has considerable depth at the mound. Nasser, Haghdan, Margaret Bragdon ’18, and Jen Kaplan ’15 all pitched in Florida and will share pitching time this season.
Returner and third baseman Victoria Bergeron ’16 said, “We had our best performance in Florida out of the past three years that we have gone. We have a lot of depth in our pitchers and our infield is very solid. Especially with Nasser and Haghdan pitching fast, it will be hard for batters to get around on the ball. We are focusing on our bunt and slap defenses in practice, because we anticipate that teams will play short games when facing us.”
The team is primarily focused on its defense and pitching, as Andover’s bats came alive in Florida, where the team averaged 11.1 runs per game. Bergeron, Haghdan, Nasser, Erickson, and Mackenzie Bradford ’15 are Andover’s first five batters in the order and combined for the majority of Andover’s hits during spring training.
Drench said, “We still have things to iron out, but being able to have two practices and play seven unofficial games in Florida with everybody playing at least two entire games gave us a good look at what we have and now we know what we still have to work on.”
Andover’s season will likely be delayed because of the heavy snowfall this winter. With its field frozen over, the team is currently practicing indoors in Case Memorial Cage.
Weather aside, Andover Softball has come out of preseason with momentum that will carry into its regular season.
Drench continued, “Once the games start, we’ll want to play hard, play smart and play well. If we can do that on a consistent basis, we’ll have a good chance of getting positive results.”