Spring Preview: Softball


Fordham Softball is an A-10 powerhouse (Roderick Perez/The Fordham Ram)

by Brendan O’Connell

Fordham Softball is an A-10 powerhouse.(Roderick Perez/The Fordham Ram).

Something Fordham Softball fans have come to expect over the past decade is success.
Entering her 18th season at the helm of the softball program, head coach Bridget Orchard is embracing the standard she and her athletes have set over the years.

Last season, the Rams captured their fifth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship and finished the season with the second-highest winning percentage mark (.730) in program history, but this season will present new challenges and opportunities, which keeps Orchard motivated.

The start of the seasonal change has Orchard ready to go. “I am so anxious to get out on the field and play,” Orchard said. “There will be many new faces on the field in 2018. Our goals, as always is to go to the Women’s College World Series, but first our focus is on winning the Atlantic 10 championship. We host this year so it will be extra special to win at home.”

Youth is one key difference between last year’s historic team and this year’s. With studs such as Amy Van Hoven, Lindsay Mayer, Ally Vergona, Sydney Canessa, Jessica Hughes and others having graduated, one challenge Fordham will face this season is a lack of experience. Orchard anticipates about five of her nine Opening Day starters to be first-year players, whereas her starting lineup in 2017 was nearly entirely composed of returning players.

With so many new contributors coming into the fold, Orchard will rely on certain mainstays to lead the team, both on and off the field. Among these players are graduate student Lauren Quense and senior Madi Shaw, who each had stellar seasons in 2017 and will serve as team captains this spring.
“[Lauren and Madi] are absolutely amazing and we couldn’t do it without them,” raved Orchard. “Especially with so many young players, they have really taken ownership of the team and are showing them the Fordham way.”

Along with seasoned veterans like Quense and Shaw, the team will also depend on solid performances from a variety of players. Orchard specifically mentioned sophomores Madie Aughinbaugh and Skyler Johnston along with juniors Chelsea Skrepenak and Maria Trivelpiece as being important returning members.
Among the freshmen expected to make an impact are Paige Rauch, who will start at second, and Brianna Pinto, Kelly Bright and Rachel Hubertus, who will compete for playing time right away.

The Rams also have Molly Roark, a junior college transfer, who will be their starting catcher.

No matter how the lineup shakes out to begin the year, players will have ample opportunity to earn their Ram horns, starting with their matchup with UCLA on Feb. 14.

“We are counting down the days until our first game at UCLA, and also our Palms Springs tournament where we play top ranked SEC and PAC 12 opponents and the gold medal Team Japan in an exhibition game. We also head to play Alabama in March, which I am really looking forward to. It is an amazing experience for the players to play in these top stadiums and atmospheres. We sign autographs for young girls and the players really get to see what kind of impact they have as role models.”

Just nine wins away, this season will undoubtedly include Orchard’s 600th victory as head coach of the Rams. When she thinks about milestones like this, or the NCAA Championship berths her team has earned in 7 of the last 8 years, or any number of other accomplishments, she jokes that it must mean she is “getting old!” In a more serious sense, she credits her achievements to having had some “amazing” athletes and support staffs. “I have been very blessed and feel so fortunate to have the opportunities I have had. Fordham has really supported me and my teams and allowed us to be successful.”

Orchard’s philosophy has produced incredible, historic results at Fordham, and her approach remains consistent this year. “We prepare, commit and sacrifice a lot to achieve the success. Our players really buy in and work all year long to achieve their goals.”

Poised for another run, time will tell if the Rams will bloom with the flowers beside Bahoshy Field and maintain the incredible standard they have set in recent years behind their remarkable coach and leaders.