NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck softball team finds itself in a bit of a rebuilding mode with some big cleats to fill.
Naugatuck lost six seniors from last year’s team, including the entire pitching game as catcher Shannon Searles and pitcher Jenna Miller graduated. The Greyhounds, who went 11-11 last season, also lost a few potent bats in the lineup, including All-State and All-NVL player Kara Klimaszewski, All-Iron player Sandra Dinis, Erica Andreoli and Lauren Burns.
“The opportunities and challenges are there,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “The team is responding and working hard to prove they belong in the lineup come April 2.”
The Greyhounds won’t start the season empty handed as they do return several talented players led by senior captain All-Iron outfielder Jackie Aronin, who batted .352 last season, along with senior captains Jenna Massicotte, who batted .442 last season, and outfielder Alyssa Barry.
Naugatuck will need to fill the pitching role and that has been addressed during the preseason. Senior Jess Conover, sophomore Julia Pelliccia along with freshman Megan Schofield have been working the scrimmages in the pitcher’s circle.
“We only played two scrimmages but our pitchers have been working hard,” Wesche said. “They all have different pitches and different speeds to offer.”
Aronin will set the example in the outfield while Massicotte will anchor the defense in the infield at shortstop. Seniors Taya Diaz in the outfield and McKenzie Staples in the infield add more experience and leadership to the team.
Junior infielders Olivia Rotatori and Katie Jaroneczyk will help strengthen the defense and add a few more productive bats to the lineup. Junior Alexandra Langhans, as the designated player, and sophomore Molly Kennedy in the outfield will help out the offense, as well, as Naugatuck looks to stay in the hunt while rebuilding.
“The usual foes will be battling it out this season,” Wesche said. “And we intend to be one of those teams. Seymour, Torrington and Holy Cross all return very good aces on the mound. Watertown and Woodland have experienced teams and Wolcott and St. Paul are always strong competitors.”
The Greyhounds will find out how far they have come and how far they need to go when they open the season on Saturday at Watertown. Naugatuck will host Woodland on Monday before closing out next week with Ansonia on Wednesday and Trumbull on Friday.