In 2020, the Rowan University softball team was on its way to another successful season then the COVID pandemic hit and it came to an abrupt end. The Profs played eight games and had a 5-2-1 record. A year later, Rowan is ready to get back on the field.
“I think our kids have done a great job,” stated head coach Kim Wilson. “In the fall, they were happy to be out on the field again. I think for a lot of athletes they are enjoying the game again. When it gets taken away from you, it makes you respect it more and miss it. In that way, it has been positive for us. The players are practicing hard. This is their outlet and our practices have been awesome and competitive because they are happy to be out doing something.”
“I think the spring sports are the best sports to be going through this,” Wilson continued. “We are used to being resilient and adapting our schedule with rain. That is our normal. We have a schedule but it is never played the days that we are supposed to play. Planning is kind of thrown out the window eventually. It is truly not that much different than every other year. We have to coordinate testing and those sort of things.”
This year’s squad is made up of nine veterans and 14 newcomers. The Profs have a void to fill with the loss of starting pitchers Jesse DeDomenico and Lauren Shannon. In four seasons, DeDomenico compiled a 57-22 record with a 1.47 earned run average (ERA) and 430 strikeouts. She earned All-America, All-Region, and All-Conference honors. Shannon had a 43-14 mark and a 1.65 ERA. She was named to the All-Region and All-Conference teams.
Rowan’s pitching staff includes seniors Emily August and Kelly Duffy, junior Alexa Saccomanno and freshman Cat Thomas. August and Duffy have experience on the mound. While Duffy has not been an everyday pitcher, she has been an effective designated player as showcased by a .313 career batting average. She was hitting .429 last year before the season was canceled. Duffy was selected to the 2019 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) All-Conference and East All-Region first teams. In 2019, Saccomanno was on the mound in six games and had a 2-0 record with a 2.25 ERA. At Immaculata Heart Academy, Thomas was a member of the All-League, All-County, All-State and All-Group teams.
“We have some fresh faces in the circle that are ready to step up and take the reins of the program,” said Wilson. “Between the four of them, they all have different looks, which is exciting when it comes to match-ups and depth in a new NJAC Conference Championship format. We will have the ability to use all four in different roles and situations as the season unfolds.”
“Emily has invested a great deal of time over the past year to refine her mechanics and master her spins,” added Wilson. “She does a good job of understanding the game and setting up batters. Kelly has developed quickly after transitioning back to the circle after not throwing for two seasons. She throws hard with a deceptive off-speed that will keep batters off-balance. Her power in the lineup hitting is also a big factor for us.”
“Saccomanno has proven effective on the mound in the past, posting a top 10 win in 2019 against Kean University, as well as throwing some innings in relief in the NCAA Regional Championship game win over MIT to help advance us to the NCAA Super Regional,” Wilson said. “She has really embraced and owned her emergence back into this full-time pitching role and has worked hard to be in the everyday rotation. Last but not least, Cat is a dynamic softball player, able to serve us as a pitcher, first baseman, and designated player. She is definitely a gamer on the mound. We are looking forward to seeing her immediate impact on the program.”
Rowan has depth at the catcher position with veterans Korie Hague and Cali Kraemer and newcomers Danielle Heulitt and Caylei Hoffmann. Hague started last year at third and had a .550 batting average and 11 runs batted in (RBI) in eight games. It was Kramer’s first season on the team and she hit .205 with six RBI.
“Korie will see some time behind the plate,” stated Wilson. “We recruited her as a catcher. She is very consistent back there and steady and does a nice job working with the pitchers. Korie is a bit of a pitching coach out there when it is just the pitchers and catchers. She will also play third base and was steady there. We are hoping that her bat is where she left off last year. She is a good leader for us on the field. Cali caught every game last year and brings a strong bat to the plate. She is developing as a leader on the field. She will definitely see time behind the plate.”
“This is Danielle’s first season playing for us,” added Wilson. “She is continuing to work hard and get better. She is working on her hitting and will see time at some point. Caylei is a freshman. She is very steady behind the plate and is consistent. She does a really nice job of working with the pitchers.”
Rowan returns three of its four starters in the infield. Mackenzie Short returns at first while Sonia Sharma is back at second. Hague will see time at third along with rookies Payton MacNair and Zoe Frisko. Last year, Saccomanno played short while this season the role will be taken over by transfer Breanna Bryant. Short collected eight RBI in eight games last season. Saccomanno contributed with a .333 batting average. Bryant transferred from the University of Albany. She graduated from Caravel Academy (DE) and was a team captain. Bryant was named an All-Decade second baseman. Frisko played four seasons at Vineland High School.
“Mackenzie has started for us for three years and she will be our starting first baseman,” Wilson said. “With student teaching, she is doing double duty trying to make practices. She understands the game for us and gives the young kids on the left side of the field to throw to that is consistent. Mackenzie is definitely a tremendous defensive first baseman. Cat will see some time there. It depends on how we use the flex because we have some hitting pitchers which allow us to do a lot more with the flex, dp and op.”
“Sonia has been working really hard in the off-season on hitting,” commented Wilson. “She is a good leader for us and is very talkative in the infield. She is extremely consistent at second. Katie Hines is working out at the second base. She is a hard-working player as the backup at that position. She will get some experience along the way.”
“Breanna will be consistent for us at short and will make good plays,” stated Wilson. “She is learning to be a leader. A left-handed swinger, she will also do some damage at the plate. Payton is a true utility and could see time in a variety of positions, ranging from short, third, second, and the outfield.”
Hines earned four letters at Mahwah High School. She received All-League honors three times. McNair was on the softball team for four years at Cinnaminson High School. She was selected to the All-Conference first team three times and was on the All-South Jersey first team her junior season. McNair was a team captain her junior and senior year and recorded her 100th career hit as a junior.
“Korie should see time at third when she is not catching,” Wilson explained. “It will be a little bit of a merry-go-round where we are putting people which is a good thing to have. If they are hitting, we need to find a place for them. I look forward to that. Zoe can play third or at first. She will be one of the first players off the bench pinch-hitting. Zoe is gaining experience on the quickness of our game defensively. She has been learning first base and has been doing a good job.”
In the outfield, Rowan has back senior Rebecca Lombardo in center field and junior Morgan Zane in left. In 2019, Zane was chosen the NJAC Rookie of the Year and to the All-Conference first team. Transfer Mariah Wysocki has earned the starting spot in right. Prior, she played at Lee University and Bloomfield College. The incoming class of Sarah Brosman, Lexi DiGiorgio, Grace Shukitis, Gabbie Fonollosa, Sam Marasheski, and Brooke Rennar are all looking for time in the outfield.
“Rebecca started in center last year,” Wilson stated. “She makes some exceptional plays out there and is becoming a full triple threat at the plate as a lefty. Her power has increased exponentially; she is quick and experienced—all the makings of a great centerfielder. Morgan is the name and face that many will fear in our lineup. Her power is still top-notch and she continues to make great plays in the outfield. Mariah rounds out the outfield for us and is yet another player with offensive power. In her short time at Rowan, she has sent double digits out of the park. She is an experienced player and will solidify the middle of our lineup.”
“Sarah has improved tremendously from the fall,” continued Wilson. “She will be one of the first defensive replacements off the bench in the outfield. Lexi is a twin and her sister is a pitcher at Rutgers-Newark. She is working hard to learn the outfield and get better. Lexi will provide some speed on the bases for us. Grace has a cannon for an arm and is a very well-rounded athlete. She can play multiple positions but is settling in nicely to the outfield. She will be an early pinch hitter that can pack a punch.”
At Whippany Park High School, DiGiorgio was an All-Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference first-team selection in 2019 and second team in 2018. Shukitis was selected to the All-League first team three times at Clifton High School. Fonollosa played four years at Hamilton High School.
“Sam is pressuring our defensive teams in practice,” Wilson stated. “She is working hard on the bases and will be the first pinch runner of the bench. Sam will work her way into seeing some at-bats as we go along. Brooke is learning the outfield after transitioning from the infield. She has good speed and offensively will get some at-bats.“
Marasheski earned four varsity letters at Abington High School (PA). She was named to the Suburban One League first team her junior year and received honorable mention as a sophomore. Marasheski was chosen a team captain in her senior season. A graduate of Paramus High School, Rennar was a member of the Big North Freedom Division All-League first team twice and honorable mention once. She also received All-Bergen County honors.
“I have been really happy with the freshmen,” said Wilson. “They have done everything we ask of them. They have done a really good job learning. ‘Whatever you need coach’ and that has been very nice.”
The Profs start the 2021 season today, Thursday, March 11 at Washington College (MD). The home opener is scheduled for Tuesday, March 16 against Muhlenberg College. The conference schedule begins on Saturday, April 3 at home against Kean University.