The Guilderland softball team wants more than another Section II Class AA title.
“The message (to the players) is we’re not happy with just being Sectional champions. We don’t want to just maintain. We want to win the state title,” said Guilderland coach Lou Marino.
Several teams are out to stop Guilderland from repeating, though, including the team the Lady Dutch defeated in last year’s final – Bethlehem.
“We barely made it into Sectionals with a 9-7 (league) record, so you could say we pretty much snuck up on people last year,” said Bethlehem coach Karen Gentile. “But over the last four years, we’ve been to the finals three times and won it once (in 2011). So, we have the experience factor working for us.”
Here is a closer look at what last year’s Sectional finalists have entering 2014.
The Lady Dutch lost a key player from last year’s championship team when catcher Abi Peck suffered a season-ending knee injury during the winter. That plus the graduation of Jenna Cubello and Mallory Harrigan leaves three holes in the starting lineup for Marino to fill.
Guilderland is returning several key players from last year’s team, though. Position players Tori Greco, McKenzie Lozano, Doris Kane and Gabriella Marino are back, as is starting pitcher Taylor Tewksbury. Marino moves in from the outfield to replace Peck behind the plate.
Tewskbury was one of the top Suburban Council pitchers last year with 12 victories. Torie Rathwell will make spot starts for Guilderland and play second base when she isn’t pitching.
Lou Marino said the rest of Guilderland’s lineup will feature sophomore and juniors who will be getting their first taste of varsity softball.
“I think what we’ve done is increase our team speed, and I think our defense is going to be very good,” said coach Marino.