Softball preview: North Rockland
Coach: Jackie DiNuzzo
Last Year's Record: 14-6
THEILLS, N. Y. – North Rockland softball will find out quickly if it’s a program that can reload instead of rebuild this spring. The Red Raiders only have one returning starter and will feature one of the youngest teams in the region this year. MacKenzie Conklin will be a senior starter at shortstop. She’s joined by just two other seniors on the roster.
“We’re a new team basically, but it’s all coming together,” Conklin said. “New girls are stepping up, and we will continue to get better as season starts.”
North Rockland lost seven seniors from its league championship team, but expects to be right back in the thick of things in 2012. Conklin steps into the shoes of Taylor Corretjer at shortstop and will be the backbone of the offense in the cleanup spot.
“Since she was a sophomore, she’s gotten bigger and stronger, and it shows,” Coach Jackie DiNuzzo said. “She’s come into her own as a leader, and we’re building a lineup completely around her.”
North Rockland will hang its hat on its defense this year with talented players everywhere. Senior Alexa Chiorazzi will anchor the outfield in right, and the team’s other senior, Brianna Nicosia, will play one of the corner infield positions. Otherwise, it’s still a crapshoot for starting positions at North Rockland.
“Besides Mackenzie, each position is still up in the air, but it’s good for us,” DiNuzzo said. “We have talent everywhere, to the point that some girls could start at another school probably. We’re very strong defensively.”
Offensively, North Rockland has some questions. With the lack of varsity experience, DiNuzzo and Conklin expect growing pains at the plate.
“Softball is a game of small ball anyway,” DiNuzzo said. “We need to learn situations, moving runners over, bunting, stealing, et cetera.”
“The biggest issue we have is the lack of varsity-level live pitching,” Conklin added. “We don’t have experienced pitchers; therefore, our hitters aren’t able to see varsity-experienced pitching.”
As always, pitching is a concern because of its importance in softball. Right now, North Rockland is still looking at four different arms.
“Freshmen Madison Knipl (P/2B) and Alyssa Williams (P/1B), Sophomore Tara Sasso (P/OF), and Junior Jackie Selvaggi (P/3B) are all going to get innings, not only at the mound, but at other positions as well, which is advantageous for us,” DiNuzzo said. “Their ability to play in the field and pitch will help us greatly. Having young pitching is promising for our future and we are trying to build our success around them this season and going forward.”