BASKING RIDGE, NJ - In the course of a .500 season, the 12 victories that the Ridge varsity softball team accrued last season represented the same number the program had achived in the prior two seasons combined.
Second-year coach Jackie Spina looks to be building a cohesive program at Ridge, and this could be the year the Red Devils post a winning record.
There are 10 letterwinners returning for Ridge this season, and yet, just two of them are seniors. Those 12th-graders are center fielder Kristin Miscia and 2B/OF Jordan Richmond. Miscia is an all-around impact player of whom Spina said, "She will lead us with her bat, her crazy range in the outfield and her speed on the base paths."
Just two of the letterwinners returning for this rising young squad are juniors: OF/2B Alexis Soulias and 1B/C Amanda Leitz. The rest of the returning players actually saw significant action as sophomores last season.
That group of 10th-graders includes shortstop Maddie West, third baseman Annabelle Hamilton, catcher/1B Allegra DeCandia, outfielders Emma Mertz and Lauren Lusardi, and pitcher Sophia Berger.
Sophomores Hope Wiatroski and Katelyn Beher have shown promise, and freshman pitcher Mia Robb should get some innings when she spells Berger.
"I am excited to see what we can put together this season as a squad," Spina said. "The youth in our program is going to be the telltale sign of how far we go in the county and state tournament this year.
"We have a ton of talent and just need to put it together each and every game," the coach added. "Our success will come from the pitching and defense first, with timely hitting. If we can do that we will be a very competitive team. We’re going to play hard, play smart, play together and have some fun along the way."
The season opens Tuesday with the first of three straight home games to open the season, at 3:45 p.m. against North Hunterdon. The next day, the Red Devils will host Bridgewater-Raritan at 3:45, with Franklin coming to Basking Ridge for a 3:45 game on Friday.