BY CHRIS HOOKER, SPORTS EDITOR
Things are certainly looking up for the Crusader baseball and softball teams this spring.
After being ranked sixth out of seven in the Landmark preseason poll, junior catcher Nick Testo believes his team is ready to prove the doubters wrong.
“I think sixth is good for us because it will motivate us to play better and improve in the conference,” Testo said. “We know we’re better than sixth. We have a great team with some great juniors and seniors and a strong underclass.”
Catholic and Moravian are the heavy favorites to finish 1-2 in some order in the conference. Catholic received 48 points (two first place votes), while Moravian grabbed 45 points (three first place votes). Susquehanna baseball received just 18 points.
Testo thinks his team won’t be hindered by the preseason placing and said their goal is to win the conference.
He said of head coach Danny Bowers ’00, “Our coach made our schedule a lot harder this year, so we’ll be better prepared to play in the conference.”
Testo also cited the leadership from his upperclassmen and the potential of the underclassmen to help the team lead the charge.
“We’ve got a lot of leadership and experience,” Testo said. “We’ve got our senior captain Dan Wing, Nick Ferlise and Kenny Kayama. We are excited to see what they can give in their last season.”
“We’ve got two strong sophomore outfielders in Kyle Semmel and Mike Rucereto,” he added. “Our infield is made up of underclassmen in Nick Kennedy, Bryan Palasi, as well as second basemen Jared Musilli and freshman Dylan Glassmire. Our infield is all young and they can really step up to the plate and do a lot for us.”
On the women’s side of the game, the softball team was picked to finish second in the conference, taking 38 points and one first place vote.
They are preranked right behind Moravian’s 50 points and five first place votes.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” senior outfielder Kathryn Gilbert said. “We still have some things to work on and we’re hopeful we can get back to hosting [regionals] again. We want to make it this year, that’s our motivation. Moravian is our biggest competitor and that is our first game of the season.”
So far, the start of the season has been frustrating. Difficult whether patterns have kept the team from being able to practice on game field.
“We haven’t been able to get outside much,” said Gilbert. “But our starters are returning so we are looking pretty good right now.”
She also reiterated the importance of making it back to regionals, something this team has only done once.
“Our main goal is make it even farther,” she said. “We’ve only made it to regionals once, when I was a freshman. I’m a senior now and we want to experience it together.”
In doing so, the Crusaders will need help from their seniors, but also will need to tap into the potential of their younger softball players.
Gilbert added: “We have a lot of potential and everyone has the possibility of contributing. We have a quick team and a lot of depth. Our future definitely looks promising.”
Susquehanna softball is looking to improve upon last year’s strong season where head coach Kathy Kroupa led the team to a 10-2 finish in league play.
They were ranked as a number one seed for the first time in the program’s history.