North Adams, MA- The MCLA Softball program will begin play on Tuesday, March 13th in Clermont, Fl. at the PFX games as the look to improve upon a difficult season a year ago. The Trailblazers will have many changes in 2018, beginning with first year head coach Erica Li, who replaces Jamie Trudeau after three seasons at the helm.
MCLA will play a 34 game schedule and will seek a return to the MASCAC tournament after missing out a year ago on the playoffs. The Trailblazers return a host of players from last season and have added a few newcomers poised to make an impact. Here is a breakdown of the 2018 Softball program:
In the Circle-
MCLA returns it's top two starters from last season in sophomore hurlers Morgan Watson and Kara Adams. The duo combined for 27 starts as true freshman and tossed over 130 innings for the Trailblazers. Watson led the team with an ERA of 4.89 and struck out 59 hitters. The right hander was hampered by 48 walks, but did earn All MASCAC second team honors. Adams tossed 53.1 innings last season and posted a 6.43 ERA for MCLA.
First year hurler Samantha Feinstein should also see time in the circle this year for the Trailblazers. The hard throwing right hander will be a nice compliment to both Watson and Adams.
In order for the Trailblazers to be successful in 2018, they will have to improve upon an offense that batted just .254 in 31 games. MCLA mustered just 34 extra base hits on the season and will need to pack more punch in 2018. Returning to lead the offense is two time All MASCAC performer Kaitlyn Berghela. The junior batted .315 last season with three doubles and a triple. She scored 19 runs last season and will be a center piece of the Trailblazers offense while roaming in center field on defense.
Joining Berghela in the outfield should be senior Francesca Belli, who appeared in all 31 games last season. Other Trailblazers competing for time in the outfield will be Adams and Feinstein. Both will likely rotate when not in the circle. First year player Trinity Shellard will see some opportunites as well during her first season in the outfield.
The infield should be very competitive as they return some key players who gained valuable experience last season. Kayla Baker will likely open up at shortstop after batting .289 last season. Ashley Wilson started 30 games as a freshman and will get ample opportunities again in 2018.
The Trailblazers have a host of newcomers who are poised to make a splash in the infield in 2018. Sophomore Kaylyn Holliday will likely get the nod at third base while L'Rae Brundige will see opportunities at first base. Both will be counted on to bat in the middle of the Trailblazers lineup.
Speaking of catching, MCLA returns Nevada Nelsen who played in 30 games last season. She anchored the defense and will be counted on to lead the pitching staff in 2018. First year player Julia Parker is a candidate to earn some time behind the dish as well for MCLA.
MCLA will play ten games in the sunshine state as part of the PFX Spring Games. The Trailblazers will play ten different opponents from across the country. MCLA opens up with a pair of games on the 13th against UMass-Dartmouth and Lasell College. They will take on the Coast Guard Academy and Scranton the following day before taking the 15th off. Li's squad then challenges Lawrence University and Trinity (CT) on the 16th before battling Wisconsin Eau-Claire and Wisconsin River Falls on the 17th. MCLA rounds out the Florida swing on the 19th with a twinbill against Southern Maine and St. Lawrence.
The Trailblazers will have 11 days off before hosting Framingham State University on March 30th in the MASCAC opener for both teams. The twinbill opens up a six game homestand for the Trailblazers as they host Southern Vermont on April 4th and Fitchburg State on the 7th. MCLA travels to Lyndon State on the 11th and will host Bay Path on the following day.
MCLA heads to MMA for a twinbill on the 14th and will host Bridgewater State on Patriots Day. The Trailblazers head over to cross town foe Williams College on the 18th and continue the road trip with a matchup against Worcester State on the 21st. Home dates with Westfield State (4/24) and Sage (4/26) round out the home schedule and the regular season ends with a doubleheader at Salem State on the 28th.
The MASCAC tournament begins on Thursday, May 3rd with a champion crowned on the 6th.