Smithfield, R.I. – Veteran leadership and young talent will be the key for the Bryant University softball team this season.
The Bulldogs finished last season with a 13-32 overall record and were 8-8 in Northeast Conference play. The Black and Gold are coming off a victory in the Ocean State Classic last fall.
Bryant's top three hitters will be returning to the team this season. All-NEC Rookie team member Toni Camarillo (Corona, Calif.) led the team in batting average (.310) and hits (40). Fellow Bulldogs Morgan Powell (Murrieta, Calif.) and Tiffany Bell (Egg Harbor City, N.J.) were top five in batting average, hits, and RBI's.
In the bullpen, the top pitcher from last year, Gabi Ermish (Pottstown, Pa.), will be returning to lead the rotation. Ermish earned All-NEC first-team honors last season and led the Black and Gold in innings pitched (108.2), strikeouts (62), and ERA (2.51) and will enter this season ninth all-time in strikeouts with 149. She will be joined by Sarah McKeveny (Bohemia, N.Y.) who posted career highs in starts (16), ERA (4.44), and strikeouts (56).
The outfield is where Bryant will showcase its veteran leadership. Seniors Lainey Michaud (Phoenixville, Pa.), and Nikki Davis (Toms River, N.J.) will be joined by juniors Bell, Powell, Gianna Ceccarelli (Claremont, Calif.) and Sabrina Crane (Newtown, Pa.). Last year the outfield accounted for thirty percent of the runs on the team.
Junior Alex Hickey (St. John, Ind.) and senior Marianna Politis (Arcadia, Calif.) will be in the infield for Bryant. This duo brings the power as both players have had at least one home run since they've been on the team.
The Bulldogs look to continue to run the bases with efficiency as they led the NEC in stolen bases with 68. Powell (12), Bell (11), and Dakota Bilodeau (Milford, N.H.) (10) all had double-digit steals last season.
The Black and Gold will be a young team as they have eight freshmen joining the team this season. The incoming freshman class includes Hailey Aspinwall (Doylestown, Pa.), Erica Barley (Bedford, N.H.), Christina Colon (Verona, N.J.), Olivia Fee (Levittown, Pa.), Jenna Gardner (Millville, N.J.), Aleix Hudson (Lawrenceville Ga.), Kylie Kenney (Jamison, Pa.), and Megan Skousen (Murrieta, Calif.).
Bryant will start their season on Friday, February 14 in Tucson, Arizona for a doubleheader against Long Beach St. and No. 3 Oklahoma.