Kristine Knuth doesn’t have to worry about roster upheaval – at least for another year.
That’s because the Moore Catholic softball coach has nine seniors returning from a team that won the Archdiocesan title and reached the CHSAA state semifinals a year ago.
“It’s a great group,” the third-year head coach said. “I’ve had them for four years now and it’s a pleasure to coach them.”
It’s also a rare luxury to have such a large group who has been together for all four years.
“We’ve all practiced together since freshman year so we all know each other,” co-ace Gianna DeCesare said. “We have a stronger bond than most of the teams.”
The diminutive DeCesare again shares the pitching responsibility with fellow senior Kelly Graham. They each bring something different to the circle.
“Kelly throws harder than me,” DeCesare said. “I’m little so I don’t throw that hard, but I have a lot of movement on my ball.”
Graham and DeCesare will be joined by sophomore Nicole Guzzone on a deep pitching staff. Knuth said she’ll start out using the trio in a rotation.
“They’re right now in a rotation and I’m confident with any one of my pitchers I put on the mound,” she said. “All of our girls are able to hit their spots, their breaking balls move and they’re all different so it’s nice to be able to have different pitchers for different situations.”
While Taylor Baggs will be sorely missed, senior Maxine Jasko will look to fill the void at shortstop and will bat in the middle of the Mavericks order, while second baseman Alexa Alberti is an excellent sacrifice bunter and slap hitter.
“She’s a real table-setter,” Knuth said. “She’s able to get on base and the team’s been able to find ways to score. She’s been on varsity for three years.”
First baseman Taylor Krupa will also be featured in the top six in Moore’s lineup, joining third baseman Nicole DeMartino, Guzzone and sophomore catcher Corinna Strype.
“We’re really good hitters, we can really hit 1-9,” Knuth said. “We have a solid lineup and we’re able to hit the long ball as well as play a lot of small ball. We’re very smart base runners and we have great communication on defense. Our pitchers have the confidence to let their defense make plays for them.”
The biggest difference for the Mavericks will be in the outfield with Maria Genovese, Jackie Heinz and Krissa Sagona graduating. Kristen Reina will likely start in center, Kristen Broecker and DeCesare will split time in right and Graham, Guzzone and Noel Malpeso will all see time in left based on the day’s starting pitcher.
A year ago, Moore upset favorite St. Joseph by the Sea to win its first Archdiocesan title since 2007. Knowing the days are dwindling on their high school careers, the Mavericks seniors are even hungrier to make a deeper postseason run this year.
“I don’t think we were expected to win the Archdiocesan last year,” Graham said. “But knowing that we did, it makes us want so much more to go further this year.”
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