The Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders softball team returns six starters from the 2010 team, which finished the season with a 22-1 record (best in the school's history). They won the District 9-A title, the Elk County Tournament for the 10th straight year, went undefeated in the regular season with an 18-0 record, went 3-0 in the District playoffs, and advanced to the second round of the PIAA championships.
The six returning starters for the Joe Coroso coached team are catcher Torie Gradizzi, Lyndsey Trumbull at second base, Jessie McLaughlin at third base, Hannah McGowan in center field, Anna Hawkins in right field and Taylor Schlimm at first base. This season Schlimm will be taking over the pitching chores as Elk's former pitcher, Lauren Evers, graduated. The other returning letter winner is the designated hitter, Jenny Cappiello.
"We will have plenty of speed this season as they may be the quickest team I have ever coached," noted Coroso. "We have some very good hitters with Schlimm, Cappiello, Trumbull, Hawkins and Stephanie Ginther hitting with power.
"Another of our strong points this season will be the returning starters and letter winners. We should have a very solid infield with some speed in the outfield. Our catcher, Gradizzi, worked hard in the offseason to improve both in the hitting department and on defense.
"We will have plenty of experience in the infield with Trumbull at second and McLaughlin at third as anchors. Right now, sophomore Michelle Imbrogno could get the nod at shortstop, but Hawkins or Trumbull could be moved to shortstop with Struble going to second. At first base, we will have either Cappiello, Julia Scacchitti or Kristy Hanes. Schlimm will be on the mound for us and she is pretty good. Her fastball is comparable with Evers' fastball. McLaughlin will be available to pitch if needed and Taylor DaCanal, who will be playing JV ball, could also be moved up if we need more pitching. I want DaCanal on the JV team to get more experience on the mound."
Coroso noted that it will be tough replacing Evers and shortstop Laura Mohney, as they were both team leaders.
"We need to have the seniors step up this season and take over the leadership roles on the team," he said.
"In the outfield, we will have McGowan and Hawkins with Samantha Smith, Stephanie Ginther or Alexa Hansen. Our goals this season are to repeat as the (Elk) County Tournament champions, win the District title and advance on to the PIAA tournament. "Some of our toughest competition this season will come from Smethport, DuBois Central, Curwensville and Clarion, as they were all very young and good last season and return most of their starters."
Elk's varsity team will consist of 14 players this season. Senior members of the squad are Jenny Cappiello, Torie Gradizzi, Alexa Hansen, Anna Hawkins, Hannah McGowan, Jessica McLaughlin, Julia Scacchitti and Samantha Smith. Junior members of the squad are Taylor Schlimm, Jena Struble and Lyndsey Trumbull. Sophomores on varsity are Jessica Ginther, Kristy Hanes and Michelle Imbrogno.
Members of the junior varsity squad are sophomores Taylor DaCanal, Kaitlin O'Hara, Jordan Raubenstrauch, Maria Tettis, Sadie Viglione and Stephanie Zimmerman. Freshmen members are Sophia Assalone, Michaela Cashmer, Hayley DaCanal, Mackenzie Neureiter, Carli Schneider, Rachel Stauffer, Tara Trumbull and Brooke VanAlstine.
Assisting Coach Coroso this season in the coaching department will be Digger O'Dell, Jude Schlimm, Aileen Hanes and Chipper Brem on the varsity level and Amy Popielski, Phil Popielski, and Pete Stauffer on the junior varsity level.
The Lady Crusaders are scheduled to play their first home game at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday at Benzinger Park against the Lady Elkers of Ridgway.