BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College softball team is excited and ready to begin the 2017 season on Sunday, March 5 with the first two of 10 games at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida.
Head Coach John Byrne enters his 24th season leading the Greyhounds with 17 letter winners and 11 starters from last year's 37-6 squad that made the program's 22nd straight postseason appearance and captured the program's seventh Landmark Conference championship and 17th overall conference title in school history. Byrne had Moravian in the NCAA Regional final at Ithaca College, the seventh time in 16 NCAA trips that the Greyhounds had played in the final game of the regional.
The biggest key to Moravian's season will be in the circle where Coach Byrne returns juniors Amanda Carisone and Josie Novak, who both earned All-Conference honors as well as being named to the 2016 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Atlantic All-Region Third Team. Carisone was 18-2 last spring with a 1.76 ERA, two saves, five shutouts and 110 strikeouts in 135.1 innings while Novak had a 19-4 slate with a 1.74 ERA, six shutouts and 168 strikeouts in 152.2 innings of action. Freshman Paige Lesher will look to contribute and add depth to the staff.
At the plate, senior All-Conference outfielder Julie Siragusa returns after making the NFCA Atlantic All-Region Third Team. In 2016 as she hit .376 with 50 hits, a school-record 21 doubles and 32 RBIs. Joining Siragusa in the outfield is another All-Conference selection, sophomore Kat Spilman, who was 2016 Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year with a .411 average, 51 hits, seven home runs and 39 RBIs. Junior Jackie Marshall and sophomore Ashley Gindle return to add experience to the outfield. Marshall scored six times last year as a pinch runner while Gindle had three runs and a pair of hits. Coach Byrne has added a talented group of freshmen outfielders that include Emily Stanilious, Colleen McCoy, Olivia Martin and Taylor Herman.
Leading the infield will be sophomore Kaela Kane, who returns at shortstop after earning All-Conference honors a year ago after hitting .344 with 42 hits, 27 runs and 17 RBIs. All-Conference performers Madison Shaneberger and Julia DeMarco also return for their sophomore season after Shaneberger hit .311 last spring with 32 hits and DeMarco added 23 hits. Returning at first base is senior power hitter Abby Jeffries, who had 20 hits, four homers and 14 RBIs in limited action.
Coach Byrne also returns senior, Victoria Conner, who was a Landmark All-Conference honoree last season as a designated player while hitting .384 with 38 hits, five home runs and 30 RBIs. Seniors Chrissy Marinaro and Lizzie Deutsch along with junior Jessica D'Agostino add versatility and experience in the infield, and D'Agostino had seven hits last season. Freshmen Lauren Goetz and Samantha O'Keefe will compete not only in the infield but see action in the outfield.
Coming into the season, the catching position is filled with experience and depth. Returning behind the plate for the Greyhounds will be junior Janae Matos, who was a Landmark All-Conference honoree last spring as she hit .343 with 34 hits, 10 doubles, five homers and 28 RBIs. Senior Niki Maffettone returns after a very strong junior season that included nine hits. Junior Jean Markovic, will compete at first base as well as add depth to the catching position after hitting .321 last season with 25 hits and 16 RBIs.