NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — North Salem softball has no plans on backpedaling after a 19-4 season last year that saw them fall in the Section 1 Class B semifinals. In fact, “potential” and “hardware” are words this year’s team is rallying behind.
“Last year we came up short despite winning 19 games, we have no hardware to show,” Tiger coach Bob Mittelstadt said. “That’s what it’s about this year, get something that lasts forever.”
With a championship end goal in mind, the team still focuses on the present and sustaining a championship mindset.
“A main goal for us with such a large team is staying on the same page, staying positive, having a good attitude for the whole season,” senior right fielder Dominique DeAngelis said. “Just take it day by day, practice by practice.”
Leading North Salem are three senior captains in pitcher Anastasia Pennacchio, center fielder Haley Donovan and DeAngelis. Having the title of captain is something these ladies wear with pride.
“We’re all grateful for our positions as leaders,” DeAngelis said, “and how coach has given us the responsibility to carry the team and keep everyone on the same page. It’s a learning experience for all of us”
Left fielder Kayla Harris and first baseman Olivia Dworaczyk, both seniors, will also be counted on in forming the backbone of the team according to Mittelstadt.
That strength starts with the Albany-bound Pennacchio, a power pitcher with a five pitch arsenal to keep opposing hitters guessing. For Mittelstadt, Pennacchio is a “dominating presence” on the mound that throws the heat to back it up.
“I think if we bring everything together and play like we know how to play we’ll do well and have a great season,” Pennaccio said.
On the back end of Pennacchio’s pitches will be freshman catcher Kasey Harmon whom Mittelstadt describes as having a great arm and being tough. She is the only freshman slotted to start.
Working around the infield will be Dworaczyk, Alina DiMella at third, Olivia De Santo at shortstop and either Maggie Boardman or Mikaela Spennicchia playing second.
Dworaczyk is a key infielder that brings a lot of range and experience with her playing first.
“She eats a lot of mistakes from the rookie infielders and we have a lot of confidence throwing over to her,” Mittelstadt said. “She makes a lot of difficult plays look routine when she plays first.”
DeAngelis will start in left field, Donovan at center field and Harris out in right field. It is a veteran outfield headlined by Donovan’s field presence and command according to Mittelstadt.
Offensively, De Santo or Boardman will kick off the top of the lineup. Pennacchio, Harris and Donovan will bat 3-4-5 for a team as powerful as Mittelstadt can remember coaching.
Damage should be done on the base paths with a team that has plenty of speed.
“We have a pretty quick team overall,” Mittelstadt said. “We like to run the bases and take the extra base, that’s what makes us successful.”
Playing as a team and winning are the top priorities for this senior-laden squad. Besides that the legacy of their final season is something to keep in mind as well.
“Having no regrets and seeing that really we made a difference in the program,” said Donovan, in reference to team goals. “[Leaving] with a successful season and the younger girls with something to look up to and to look back on.”
Mittelstadt sees a bigger picture in wanting to capture a tournament, section and league title. But that is a lot of softball games away.
“We have a lot of work to do between now and then and a very tough schedule,” Mittelstadt said. “I look forward to it and it should be a great season.”
North Salem opens the season when it travels to Briarcliff for an 11 a.m. game on Saturday, April 2.
“I think we have a lot of potential,” Donovan said. “We have some young players and a lot of talent that needs to be worked on, but we have a lot of returners and a lot of older girls with a lot of experience so we should be able to do well.”