Ginny Peiser plans on wearing her proverbial hard hat this season.
“I have a lot more tools to use,” the Mary Louis Academy softball coach said. “I have to think a little more now, instead of, ‘If we just get through handing the walks and all that stuff.’ There was no strategy. Now I have so many tools to play with I’m like a kid in a candy store.”
Those options start in the circle when it comes to attacking the best lineups in a new-look eight-team CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I. TMLA will not only play league rivals St. Francis Prep and Archbishop Molloy twice, but also Brooklyn powers St. Edmund and Fontbonne Hall twice.
Senior ace Rebecca Warne returns for her third varsity season. She has improved her speed and the effectiveness of her off-speed pitches. In years past, the Hilltoppers success relied heavily on her arm, but hard throwing junior Erin Guilfoyle logged some big innings last season. She will be joined by junior Gabriella Rey, who helped TMLA win a CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens JV title last season, and freshman Nicole Hubert.
“Haven’t had that in a while,” Peiser said of her pitching depth. “I have a lot of options and its all different, which is nice. They all throw different. They all have different strengths.”
Mary Louis took a blow to its lineup and its defense when it lost first baseman Megan Walsh for the season after she tore her LCL in tryouts.
Junior third baseman Shannon Minihane, who Peiser said is already crushing the ball, will lead a deep and balanced lineup. She, shortstop Jen Falcone, catcher Stephanie Barbaro, Julia Canova and junior Deirdre Munday will provide the power. Munday will take over for the graduated Jill Zic in center field.
Bishop Kearney is also looking to replace its ace Tiffany Irrera, who is now at Bridgeport. Senior Amanda Sinodinos will be playing a leading role. She will be the Tigers hard throwing No. 1 to start and its most versatile hitter in the middle of the order.
She will be joined in the circle by classmates Stephanie Bramante and Alyssa McDonald. Sinodinos will play first base, McDonald second or the outfield and Bramante in the outfield when not pitching. Amanda DiLeo is back behind the plate.
“I tell [Sinodinos] you have to carry the burden,” said Kearney coach Nick Trani, who takes over for his niece, Gina Trani. “You have to carry this horse on your back.”
Nicole Tobin will be at first base, Brianna Robles at second and Kristin Ferrigno at third and Samantha Simon returns at shortstop. Allison Gasparino, who will lead off, will again be patrolling centerfield with Francesca Ingargiola in left.
The mantra for Fontbonne Hall this season is “Different team, same philosophy.” The Bonnies lost top starter Michelle Fioto, first baseman Rebecca Muccigrosso and right fielder Elena DeSantis, but will again try to be a team that plays small ball around some consistent bats.
“The object of the game is to put pressure on the defense,” Bonnies coach Frank Marinello said.
Powerful catcher Jenna Nixon and centerfielder Jackie Mitchell, one of the city’s best, will lead off. Freshmen Christina Calascione can play shortstop and the outfield and Natalia Sroga will be at third.
Classmates Nicolette Tripani, who will also see time at short and Maria Sorrentino, who can also play second base, takes over in the circle.