WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange girls softball team is heading into its second season with Coach Joel Troast, and they hope to rebound from last year's 8-19  record, which included a 4-10 mark in their conference.

The team will rely on their strong group of senior starters. As part of the Super Essex Conference, one of the top leagues in the state of New Jersey, they face dominant opponents like Mount St. Dominic, Livingston and Nutley. Troast says it’s the team’s biggest challenge.

“Everywhere you go, there are talented teams and talented players, which makes for every game on the schedule to be one you have to circle to be ready to play,” Troast said.

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Senior captain and catcher, Kaitlin Machuca, said, “The biggest challenge as a team are all the teams we're up against. We are in a really competitive conference, and we need to believe in ourselves in order to win. Actually believing that we could win is going to be our biggest challenge.”

Coach Troast expects four returning senior starters and captains, Jaime DeAngelis (pitcher), Kaitlin Machuca (catcher), Kristen Bolen (first basemen), and Jahnaya Howard (shortstop), to lead to a very successful season. Troast is extremely team-oriented and says all the underclassmen are “working hard, waiting for their chance and giving us much needed depth on the varsity level.” 

“Kids have worked hard year-round playing in summer and fall leagues, as well as having some highly successful trainers work with them in the winter," said Troast.

Finding ways to win the games we can win will be a huge part of our strategy," he continued. "After being on the losing end of some of the very competitive games, We need to find ways to win those.” 

He explains that in order to improve this year, the team needs to work on defense, executing up at bat, and being smart on the base paths. Howard will play shortstop this season after moving in from centerfield in her junior year season. Last year, Howard was named All Conference and All County.

Machuca is looking forward to a the new season with positivity saying, “This is my last year and I plan to make the best of it."

She admitted that "I know our team is going to struggle, but that will not stop us from being a team and playing to the best of our availability.  I expect this season to be memorable."

The WOHS Girls Softball team plays Morristown Beard on Tuesday, April 1 in Degnan Park beginning at 4:00 pm.