NYC preseason softball: No. 4 St. Francis Prep
Since her freshman year, Nicole Lomangino’s goal has been to unseat Archbishop Molloy and win a Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan crown.
While the Stanners have won three straight division titles and a CHSAA state crown last year, there’s not been much to separate the Queens rivals. That makes the senior pitcher ever so optimistic to start this season.
Lomangino points to a league-opening extra-inning win against Mary Louis as an example of how well the Terriers can play.
“It’s been a realistic goal since I was a freshman,” Lomangino said. “We get to the championship game and we’re shy of a few runs or a few hits, an error here. But I think with this defense and the hits we had [against Mary Louis], I don’t think we’re going to be that shy of that hit or that run.”
There were some great signs in the 4-2, nine-inning win against the Hilltoppers –two terrific throws home for outs at the plate by centerfielder Tara O’Rourke, a tremendous shot off the center-field fence by freshman Kelly Licul and the pitching of Lomangino, who missed most of last year because of a sprained ankle.
“She’s very consistent,” St. Francis Prep coach Ann Marie Rich said of Lomangino. “She doesn’t get rattled when she gets in a bind. Her and [catcher] Jessica [Menna] are working extremely well. She’s not wild. She looks very comfortable.”
Part of the reason Lomangino said she’s comfortable is because of the stellar defense behind her in the circle. That includes three-year starter Danielle Cervasio at shortstop, who Rich has high expectations for this year, sophomore Briana Emanuele at third and Alexa Calcagnini at first base. Eishara Campbell starts in left, O’Rourke is a rock in center and Kayla Ward is in right.
“It’s a great feeling to know you have eight girls, beside yourself, on the field who know what they’re doing when the ball is hit to them,” Lomangino said. “It puts me more at ease.”
What Rich likes about this year’s team is that she has several interchangeable parts throughout the field.
“We’re young, but we’re deep and we’re very flexible this year,” she said. “I’ve got a lot who can do a lot, where I didn’t have that last year.”
Lomangino is the ace, but Rich said she’s comfortable going to former JV ace Theresa Armano, Jackie Russo and sophomore Maggie Aguirre in the circle.
“We’re four-deep, not that we’re going to use all four, but it’s nice to know we have them,” Rich said.
The batting lineup is also deeper than it’s been in the past. There’s dangerous sticks from the top to the bottom.
“I go very deep in the lineup, which I’m very proud of,” Rich said. “It’s always been a battle with the bottom half of the order, but I’m much more confident with the bottom half of the order.”
While Rich said she might tweak her lineup from time to time, the parts are there for another run at the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title.
“It’s just a matter of being consistent,” Rich said. “I can’t see us making many major changes because we have been there, but unfortunately it’s been that one play that has gotten us every time.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler