Buffalo, NY – After missing the playoffs for the first time in years last season, the D'Youville softball team is ready to make their presence known again as one of the best teams in the conference.
With nearly 75% of the roster being made up of underclassmen, fifth year head coach Ona Halladay, assistant coach Shannon Evans, and assistant coach Sarah Marino have all worked with the young team to build a standard. That standard carries into their play and their behavior off the field, and Halladay believes that if they can remain consistent in those areas they will be a success.
"We have worked really hard this year to develop a standard of how we are going to step on the field every day," said Halladay. "If this team stays consistent with that standard and plays with passion and perseverance, they are going to find themselves being successful in this conference."
The standard will start at the top of the order with sophomore outfielder turned catcher Ashley Carney (Clarence, NY/Clarence). As a freshman, Carney led team in hits (37), batting average (.398), triples (4), and runs scored (17). She tied for second in steals (2) and doubles (3), and was fourth in RBI (9). On her way to being named an AMCC Third Team All-Conference selection as a freshman, she began her first season with a 14 game hitting streak to begin the season. Her ability to get on base will set the table for the young Spartan lineup.
Further down the order will be the team's main power bat in shortstop Darian Evans (Brant, NY/Lake Shore). Evans led the team in home runs (4) last season and finished second on the team in RBI (16). Her big bat and clutch hitting ability greatly benefit the team and she will be a leader on the Spartans. She has versatility to play both second and shortstop, but she has found a home at short and has become one of the best in the AMCC.
Several sophomores carved out key roles for D'Youville during their freshmen seasons. Rylie Russo (Hamburg, NY/Frontier) became one of the most reliable players for the team last season and locked down second base. Russo finished the season second in triples (3), tied for second in stolen bases (2), third in RBI (15), tied for third in runs (11), fourth in hits (22), and fifth in batting average (.262).
Fellow infielder Cameron Colan (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) made an impact with her bat. Colan finished the season first in stolen bases (4), third in triples (2), tied for third in runs (11), fourth in batting average (.268), and fifth in hits (19). Both players have versatility and attitudes make them very valuable to the team.
In right field, Therese Losardo (Lancaster, NY/Lancaster) locked down a spot with her ability to get on base and score runs. She finished second on the team in runs scored (14) and was a very good promising in the field.
Senior Lauren Gawlak (Hamburg, NY/Frontier) and junior Victoria Purucker (North Tonawanda, NY/Starpoint) are two upperclassmen with active bats that can contribute at the plate but also in the dugout as leaders. Gawlak finished fourth last season in RBI (8) while Purucker had third in batting average (.300) and hits (24).
Sophomore Alexis Dymond (Kenmore, NY/Kenmore East) is the top returning pitcher from last season and will be the veteran in the rotation this season. She finished the season with 16 appearances and 12 starts and was second on team in wins (1), complete games (6), strikeouts (14), ERA (5.23), and innings pitched (71.0).
The freshmen class has plenty of talent and enthusiasm that will elevate the energy level in the dugout, and on the field. Coach Halladay is excited to have them on board and set the standard.
"We have a really talented freshmen class," said Halladay. "They have come in with a lot of energy and fire to compete. I am excited to see them bring that between the lines."
Pitchers Alexa Haberer (Derby, NY/Lake Shore) and Brittaney Goodrich (Eden, NY/Eden) will slide into the rotation and become top options for the Spartans. The freshmen pair each offer something different in pitching styles, creating a great combination that will keep opposing batters off balance.
Rachel Colan (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) and Jackie Langer (Wexford, PA/Pine Richland) will step into starting roles at third base and center field. Each has strong fielding abilities plus strong abilities at the plate. They will be key pieces of a young lineup and will be counted on to produce. Talia Wright (Derby, NY/Lake Shore) is another addition to the middle infield with a smooth glove and can make an immediate impact. Kayla Gawlak (Hamburg, NY/Frontier) also adds depth in the infield.
Second year players Maddie Jacobs (Lake View, NY/Frontier) and Megan Meyer (Cheektowaga, NY/Maryvale) saw playing time as freshmen and can compete for starting roles. Jacobs played 15 games in the outfield while Meyer has versatility in the outfield and infield. She recorded 25 at-bats in 16 games, recording four runs, four hits, and two RBI.
Junior outfield Sierra Belkota (North Tonawanda, NY/Starpoint) played in 19 games last season and is one of the best defensive outfielders the team has. Junior Rachele Anello (Buffalo, NY/Charter) had a pair of hits in six at-bats last season brings a positive mentality to the team and can contribute in several different areas.
D'Youville will begin their season in Florida, as they have done for the past several years. Playing 10 games, it will give the time for Halladay to figure out positions, lineup combinations, and get her young players a taste of collegiate softball.
"We are excited to once again start our voyage in Florida," said Halladay. "We are going to be playing some tough competition which is a good test for us and an opportunity to learn. The team will have to lean in and compete. This is essential preparation for our conference play."
The women begin their Spring Training schedule on Thursday, March 22 as they face off against Juniata at 9:00am. The team will play two games every day until Tuesday, March 27 besides on Sunday, March 25. Their first game back north will be their conference opener as they travel to Mount Aloysius on Saturday, March 31 to play a doubleheader at 1:00pm and 3:00pm.