AMHERST, Mass. — The Amherst Softball team return an experienced corps of 13 student-athletes, including five seniors, as they gear up for their 2019 campaign which commences on March 10th in Clermont, Florida while setting their sights on another New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship and NCAA appearance.
The Mammoths will take on Susquehanna to start their six-day venture (March 10-16) in warm weather, enduring 10 games in that span. Amherst will finish their week against Marian (Wis.) before heading home to the northeast.
"We have been doing an onslaught of offensive and defensive drills and are feeling confident heading into Florida competition. They want to dive and get some sun but also see themselves and what they are a truly capable of." said head coach Jessica Johnson.
Johnson enters her fifth season at the helm for the Mammoths with assistant coach Julie Bolduc entering her fifth year as well. There's a new, but familiar, face on-board the coaching staff as former standout Ally Kido '18 owns a new role in the Amherst softball program, assistant coach.
"Julies is the biggest piece of the puzzle, the center piece" said Johnson regarding coach Bolduc, "Ally is our second alumna that we've had on staff, she is an awesome check in for our student-athletes and is especially helpful when it comes to gauging them and has taken to her new role tremendously".
Last season, the Purple & White returned from spring break winning nine out of their 10 games including a six game win streak to begin their week. After suffering their only loss to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (1-0), the Mammoths won their last three games before returning to New England to face Trinity where they swept them 9-6 and 2-0. The Mammoths began conference action on March 31st when they swept Wesleyan, Middlebury, and Smith consecutively.
A conference title eluded the Mammoths last season after a 2-1 decision against Bowdoin in the championship, despite a 10-1 conference record heading into the tournament. Amherst capped off their 2017-18 season in Regionals of the NCAA Championship when they were thwarted by Williams College, finalizing their 29-8 season.
The Mammoths return 13 members from last year's squad and added five more. Outfielder and second basemen Nicole Trezza '21 enters her sophomore season after posting nine hits last season for a .375 batting average. One of the five seniors, Julia Turner '19 has been a mainstay in the outfield over her career with the Mammoths, facing 99 at bats last year with 25 hits.
Andrea Sanders '20 returns for her junior season after securing second overall in batting average for Amherst (.409), recording a team high 47 hits over 115 at-bats. Emma Cape '21 caps off the Mammoths as the sole first-year that will be vying for a spot in the outfield.
First team All-NESCAC honoree RonnieMarie Falasco '21 returns to the catcher position after a successful rookie season that included 26 games played with 30 RBI's in 32 hits. Kate Kopatic also makes her return to the catcher's position after posting 40 hits and 27 RBI's in her 35 games played. Falasco and Kopatic both garnered National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Third Team All-Region.
Senior Annie Murphy '19 returns to the third base and short stop position with 101 games played over her career with the Purple & White, slamming a homerun in a 7-4 victory over NESCAC foe Williams College (4/14/18). Short stop Kyra Naftel '19 and second basemen Sammy Salustri '19 round out the veteran infield for their final season after accruing 110 and 128 at bats, respectively, last season. Salustri tied second with Audrey Hansen '22 in hits (42) and finished with 19 RBI's.
Hansen enters her sophomore campaign after leading the Mammoths in RBI's (33) during her first season. Through 34 games, she saw 113 at-bats and accumulated 42 hits. Junior Scout Boynton '20 finalizes the infield and outfield roster with 32 games and 29 at-bats on her career with the Purple & White.
First Team All-NESCAC and NFCA All-Region First Team, Lorena Ukanwa '19 was one of the most dominant pitchers in the country, posting a 17-2 record in the circle and leading the NESCAC with 155 strikeouts in 116.1 innings pitched, and a K/7 rate of 9.33 last season. She finished the year with an earned run average of 1.68 and threw seven complete games and six shutouts.
Emily Lachtara '21 is the final returning pitcher for the Mammoths. She pitched eight innings in her first season with the Mammoths where she snagged four strikeouts. Talia Bloxham and Danica Peterson will look to step into a big role this year and will be pivotal in the success of the team for years to come.
After their six day stint in Florida to open their season, Amherst will host Worcester PolyTechnic Institute (WPI) in their home opener on March 27th, beginning at 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. Heading into the weekend, the Mammoths will begin conference action when they travel to Wesleyan University for a game on March 29th before hosting the Cardinals the following day (March 30th) in a double-header.
After non-conference action against Springfield, Trinity, and Smith the Purple & White will face Hamilton in three games (April 12-13) before traveling to Keene State (April 17). Amherst rounds out their regular season on the road when they take on Williams and Middlebury in the final two weekends of April.
Johnson, "Our women are driven by character; our team dynamic has been off the charts. We have selfless players that care more about others but also take care of themselves – the Amherst way".