GREATER MIDDLESEX CONFERENCE
Coach: Missy Collazo, seventh season (121-36)
Last season: 15-10
Returning players: Ragen Reddick (Sr., SS), Christine LaRochelle (Sr., P), Amanda Julve (Sr., C), Amber LaRocque (Sr., RF), Lauren Eicher (Sr., 1B/P), Brandi Carrion (2B/OF), Katie Cavico (Jr., 1B/3B/C), Kayla Simon (So., CF), Sarah Franczak (So., Inf/OF/P), Colleen Sharlow (So., OF/1B).
Newcomers: Samantha Juarez (Jr., Inf.), Adriana Malvone (So., OF/3B), Katie Eicher (Fr., 3B/1B/P), Ryleigh Greenwald (Fr., 2B/SS/OF).
Outlook: A talented senior class returns for the Trojans, headlined by the Seton Hall-bound Reddick (.459, 14 extra-base hits, 32 runs, 27 RBI), one of the conference’s most dynamic players, and LaRochelle (.381; 12-9). The two are joined by a nice complement of upperclassmen, including fellow seniors Julve (.300, 27 RBI) and LaRocque, and underclassmen as the Trojans are expected to be among the conference’s most competitive teams as they seemingly are on a yearly basis.
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GMC SOFTBALL: Red Division team-by-team preview
Coach: Deanna Thomas, second season (6-14)
Last season: 6-14
Returning players: Crystina Golino (Sr., Inf./OF), Caitlin Kelly (Sr., OF), Nicole Casale (So., 1B), Bianca Oblepias (So., SS/C).
Newcomers: Caitlyn Murray (Fr., P), Gineyra Rios (Fr., Inf./OF).
Outlook: A number of young, inexperienced players will take the field this spring for the Ramblers, who struggled last season in Thomas’ first at the helm. Carteret will need some breakout performers to improve upon last year’s record.
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GMC SOFTBALL:Blue Division team-by-team preview
Coach: Ann Cyrana, 12th season (159-137)
Last season: 15-10
Returning players: Kate Brannigan (Sr., SS), Nicole Anzano (Sr., OF), Rachel Joe (Sr., 1B), Jillian Mizak (Sr., 3B).
Patricia Daneke (Jr., P), Taylor Godfrey (Jr., P), Gabby Perez (Jr., OF), Juli Wright (Jr., 2B).
Newcomers: Hannah Doyle (Jr., C), Jessica Fleischman (Jr., C), Cat Mantagas (Jr., OF), Alex Williams (Jr., Util.).
Outlook: The Patriots were competitive against some good teams last season and will look to do so again with some solid returnees at key spots. Brannigan is steady at short and Anzano has one of the deadliest outfield arms in the conference. Daneke and Godfrey both saw time in the circle last season and Cyrana will look to others to fill key spots as Colonia will look to make some noise in the White Division.
GMC SOFTBALL:Gold Division team-by-team preview
Coach: Maureen Gallagher, seventh season (57-65)
Last season: 4-18
Returning players: Kayla Coleman (Sr., P), Ashley Conroy (Jr., C), Clare Lewis (Jr., 1B), Skylar Keller (Jr., 3B/OF), Becky Genao (Sr., OF), Brianna Hindy (Sr., OF), Sindy Badillo (Jr., 2B), Kaylee Caba (So., OF), Emily Velez (Jr., SS).
Newcomers: Madison Buttitta (Fr., SS/OF), Julia Sinatra (Fr., 2B/OF), Katarina Novoczynski (Fr., 3B), Adrianna Arroyo (Fr., 3B/SS).
Outlook: With their entire team back from a year ago, the Mustangs hoep to improve upon a dismal four-win campaign as with at least a year of playing experience under everyone’s belts, defensively they should be improved. Gallagher says Coleman looks much improved in the circle while Conroy (.465)is a three-year starter behind the plate and the team’s biggest offensive threat. With a few freshmen also joining the varsity ranks, competition will be imminent on the club, which Gallagher hopes will also improve their level of play. Even with many returners, Kennedy is still a relatively young team across the board.
Coach: Keith Hudak, 12th season (203-99)
Last season: 26-1
Returning players: Casey Schieda (Sr., SS), Kendra Barlotta (Sr., CF), Cindy Foresta (Sr., 3B), Sarah McGrath (Jr., OF).
Newcomers: Glorianna Perrotte (Jr., P), Angela Marzurkiewicz (Jr., C), Gracie Martini (Jr. 1B), Ashlyn Petersen (Jr., 2B).
Outlook: The defending GMC champs took some lumps to graduation, losing four starters including four-year starting batterymates pitcher Kelly Widener and catcher Marisa Monasseri, the reigning Home News Tribune Player of the Year. The Falcons do, however, return several key contributors. That starts with a trio of seniors in Schieda (.469), Barlotta (.410), and Foresta (.440), all of whom have been critical pieces to this Monroe team in recent years. McGrath (.435) also emerged as a sophomore last season and will be counted on even more this season with her bat in the middle of the order. Question marks remain with inexperience in the circle and behind the plate, two critical areas, but regardless the Falcons should still be among the top teams in the GMC despite their losses.
Coach: Sarah Diller, 18th season (141-207-1)
Last season: 1-18
Returning players: Nicolette Aloia (Sr., C/OF), Rebecca Colandrea (Sr., 3B/Inf.), Cindy Mihalenko (Sr., SS), Liz Ruff (Jr., Inf.), Ashley Gorda (Jr., OF), Jennifer Seitis (Jr., OF), Jessica Leiner (Jr., OF), Amanda Farrell (Inf.).
Newcomers: Sydney Voelbel (Fr., P), Katrina Lauri (Fr., 2B/OF), Angela Colandrea (Fr., 1B/Inf.), Julia Flores (Jr., Inf./OF).
Outlook: There’s nowhere to go but up for the Raiders after coming off a one-win campaign. Aloia and Colandrea are the team’s most experienced players and will be counted on to produce and provide leadership to a team that has a lot of inexperienced players that will be on the field. Several freshmen will be counted on, including Voebel, who steps into the circle to replace the graduated Molly Kuchler. North Brunswick will have a true home field for the first time this season, playing on a brand new field on campus after previously playing its home games at nearby Community Park.
Coach: Alexandria Riley, first season
Last season: 5-14
Returning players: Samantha Nunez (Sr., SS), Quiana Stark (Sr., P), Derilis Valerio (Sr., CF/C), Tasha Rosario (Sr., 3B), Denise Rosa (Sr., OF/2B).
Newcomers: Mia Molina (So., 1B), Maylene Morales (Fr., C/3B), Dashyra Ortiz (So., P/2B), Gianna Herrera (Jr., Inf.), Yerianne Batista (Sr., OF).
Outlook: With a new coaching staff in place as Riley takes over for longtime coach George Micak, the Panthers will look to establish a new image to a program that’s gone through some tough seasons over recent years. Perth Amboy returns several starters from a year ago and brings along several newcomers as well as they hope to build off last year’s five-win campaign.
Coach: Don Panzarella, 34th season (658-186)
Last season: 18-7
Returning players: Caroline Ratti (Sr., 3B), Holly DeLair (Sr., 2B), Meghan Hughes (Jr., SS), Caity Hughes (So., CF), Naomi Nieves (Jr., 1B), Gina Tartza (Sr., DH/RF), Camryn Schaeffer (So., C), Katherine Vill (So., P).
Newcomers: Kayla Rivera (Jr., RF).
Outlook: A number of key players are back for the Tigers, who once again, should be in the thick of things as they are on a yearly basis. Ratti (.511, 37 RBI), who compiled 23 extra-base hits a year ago, is among the GMC’s most dangerous hitters and should anchor a lineup that has several other key pieces around her in DeLair (.338), Caity Hughes (.408), and Meghan Hughes (.325). Vill (1.45 ERA) returns with a year of experience under her belt after starting in the circle as a freshman last season. Overall, the Tigers look to have the parts where there’s no reason why they can’t be competing for championships this season.
Coach: Amanda Small, first season
Last season: 7-15
Returning players: Carly Kjersgaard (Jr., P), Justine Stefura (Jr., 3B), Jordan Vazquez (So., SS), Dana Happel (Sr., OF/C), Johanna Carroll (Sr., 1B/OF), Karissa Mata (Sr., OF), Emily Henry (Jr., OF).
Newcomers: Francesca Muccilli (Sr., OF/2B), Allison Violante (Sr., OF), Kendra Tobias (Jr., 1B/2B), Kelly Muzzio (Jr., C), Sammantha Carroll (So., 2B/OF), Taylor Greco (So., OF), Cayla Petrowski (So., C), Samantha Sclafani (So., 1B), MacKenzie Thomas (So., 1B).
Outlook: A move down from the Red Division to the White Division should help the Barrons, who have struggled over the past few seasons. Small, previously an assistant, takes the reins from longtime and successful head coach Stew Jago, who retired following last season. Kjersgaard is one of the conference’s best hitters as Woodbridge doesn’t have a great deal of varsity experience, but will look to compete and play hard as they should have an opportunity at some more winnable games in the White than they’ve had in the Red.
Staff writer Mike Becker: firstname.lastname@example.org