Lady Knights optimistic despite difficult early season
Spring is off to a cold start and the CCRI softball team is right there with it. The Lady Knights have been battling injuries and unexpected holes in the roster, they’re winless in eight tries so far this season and they haven’t been able to practice outside a single time since returning from their annual trip to Florida.
“The weather has been the most frustrating thing,” said head coach Liz Afonso. “We haven’t been able to go outside. We’re trying to regroup but we’re kind of in a holding pattern right now.”
When the weather warms up and the season finally gets into full swing, the Lady Knights are hoping to put their uneven start behind them. They’ve had a string of solid seasons and they hope the rough beginning doesn’t keep them from another.
“We’re looking forward to really getting out there,” Afonso said. “I think we definitely have some potential.”
The Lady Knights are coming off a 12-12 campaign in which they nearly made a run to the district tournament. They were edged out in the third game of the regional championship instead.
A few key players have moved on from that team, but several are back in the fold, including All-Region performer Liz Coburn and pitcher Macayla Paiva. Sara Deal, Amber Boucher and Alex Place are also back after contributing, giving the Lady Knights a solid sophomore class to lead the charge.
With those veterans, the Lady Knights expected better than an 0-8 start, but that record doesn’t tell the whole story.
“We came back from Florida 0-6, but out of those six games, there was really only one where we played poorly,” Afonso said. “We’ve been having those dreaded bad innings, and they have really hurt us.”
The hope is that the Lady Knights can turn it around.
Paiva and freshman Taylor Butler of North Kingstown are the team’s top pitchers. The bad innings have hurt their numbers but Afonso likes much of what she’s seen from them.
“The two of them have held their own,” Afonso said. “The games we’ve lost have been because of errors, not because of lack of talent.”
Freshman Samantha Archambeault of Harrisville is currently handling the catching duties. Deal and freshman Jessica Brosnahan, a Toll Gate graduate, are in the mix at first base. Another Toll Gate grad, Amber Boucher, is playing second, with freshman Ashley Spear of Harrisville at shortstop. Coburn is back at third base after a big freshman season.
“Our infield is great,” Afonso said.
Freshman Alexis Jendzejec of West Greenwich is manning center field, with Place, a sophomore captain from East Greenwich in left. The right field spot is up for grabs, with freshman Rebecca Edwards of Attleboro, Mass., Ni’Mah Johnson of Providence and Jesse Ossian of Chandler, Ariz., all in the mix.
Afonso wants to see the defense improve and would like to see the offense embrace its identity. In the past few years, power was a key part of CCRI’s game. It won’t be this year.
“We’re more scrappy this year, and that’s an adjustment,” Afonso said. “We have good depth in the lineup but we’re going to have to rely on base hits and small ball.”
The Lady Knights have been focused on fundamentals while they’ve been stuck inside the past few weeks and they hope they’ll be ready for a step forward when they get out on the field.
That may happen this weekend with road trips to Maine and Orange, N.Y., if the weather cooperates.
“We’ll get a true test, hopefully,” Afonso said.