Sports

Strong Cast of Returning Starters to Propel Team to Winning Season

After an impressive 15-4 season in 2009, Andover Softball looks to work towards a Big East Invitation Championship this spring. After losing team leaders Captain Sarah Boylan ’09 and pitcher Caroline Gattuso ’09, Andover will have several holes to fill as it looks to repeat its success. “Given our number returning in addition to the strength of our newcomers, we’re hoping to have a really good season this year. One of our biggest goals is definitely to take home the hardware at the Big East Tournament,” said third baseman Shannon McSweeney ’11. Co-Captains Sarah Onorato ’11 and Alayna Garbarino ’10, as well as Riley Gardner ’10 and McSweeeney, look to produce at the plate. McSweeney said, “Sarah, Alayna and Riley all are great power hitters and will be great leaders this year.” Coach Peter Drench said, “Garbarino’s hitting has improved each season, and Onorato is a terrific all-around offensive threat who can hit with power and run fast.” “McSweeney has great reflexes, range and a rocket arm at third base, and Gardner supplies a lot of power from her spot in the lineup,” he said. Newcomers post-graduate Tristin Moone ’10 and Kristin Mendez ’13 will join these returners in what will be a great starting nine. Moone’s high school team won the New Mexico state championship last spring, and she will bring this winning experience to the diamond this season as the ace on the staff. “As a post-graduate, Moone has a lot of experience competing at high levels, and has a strong range of pitches,” said McSweeney. “She has a lot of control and velocity, not to mention a great attitude and really strong chemistry with catcher Onorato. Mendez has been doing some work in the middle infield and is looking really solid,” said McSweeney. Despite the loss of four Seniors, Drench said that he is confident in the team’s ability to fill in the gaps. “Returning players have gained experience and are more mature. They step up to fill leadership roles and carry more responsibility on the field,” he said. He continued, “Our captains are more than ready to lead, and Riley Gardner ‘10 and Caroline Kaufman ‘10, both four-year players, know the system and will be good role models for younger teammates.” With the weather as bad as it has been, Andover’s first game was cancelled on Wednesday. “We are only beginning to fit together the pieces and will have a ton of work to do once we’re able to practice outside and get some games under our belt. We are really looking forward to playing,” Drench said. Andover’s toughest opponents will include Tabor and Brooks among others. Brooks handed Andover a tough loss at the end of the regular season last year. Andover hopes to get outside Saturday to start its season with scrimmages against Andover High and Lowell High.