Fast start brings hope to MCS softball squad
By John Bernhardt
It‚Äôs amazing how two early season victories can boost a team‚Äôs confidence. ¬†That‚Äôs the case in Margaretville where the girls‚Äô softball team has broken from the gates with back-to-back victories. ¬†The Margaretville coaching staff hopes to use the fast start to help build team confidence and cohesion.
Robin Lukafvewski starts her fourth season at the helm of the Blue Devils‚Äô program. Lukafvewski, who guided her team to a Section IV appearance last spring, is looking for the Blue Devils to be in the thick of the Delaware League title chase this year. ¬†The Blue Devils start a strong infield defense and have shown good discipline at the plate during the early season.
Lukafvewski has the luxury of a solid two-prong pitching attack. ¬†Junior Brittney Hull returns to the hill after an impressive sophomore season. ¬†Hull won the starting role midway through the season last year. ¬†The junior hurler throws a heavy ball that should result in plenty of ground ball play for the Blue Devils‚Äô infield. ¬†Hull threw a complete game victory against South Kortright in the Blue Devils‚Äô nonleague opener.
Karli Tait gives Lukafvewski a double pitching option. ¬†The Andes sophomore has good velocity and control. ¬†Tait threw a complete game five-hitter against Roxbury in Margaretville‚Äôs Delaware League opener.
Caitlyn Roberts returns for duty behind the plate. ¬†The Blue Devils‚Äô junior is working hard keeping the ball in front of her defensively and improving her throws to second base.
Another junior, Brandi Balcom, is handling the duties at first base. ¬†Balcom, who started at second base last season, is familiarizing herself around the first base bag. ¬†A strong hitter, Balcom is becoming more aggressive at the plate as the spring unfolds.
Senior Aleska McCumber and sophomore Emily Kelly have been splitting time at second base in the early going. ¬†McCumber played in the outfield last season and is the only left-handed batter in the lineup. ¬†The senior has great running speed and is working hard to put the ball in play at the plate. ¬†Kelly batted in the number two slot in the first two games and is turning on the ball well.
The voice of the infield, sophomore Erica Faulkner calls out situations and sets the interior defensive alignment for the Blue Devils. ¬†Faulkner bats at the top of the order, has an excellent sense of the strike zone and puts the ball in play. ¬†The strong-armed infielder can make things happen when she gets on base.
A pleasant addition to the Margaretville starting team is freshman third baseman Sarah Batka. ¬†A transfer from Deposit, Batka has the strongest throwing arm on the team. ¬†The freshman infielder receives the ball well and can hit with power. ¬†Batka drove in the tying run in the seventh inning of Margaretville‚Äôs come from behind win over Roxbury.
A booming bat makes it likely that Lukafvewski is sure to find room somewhere in the lineup for sophomore Rachel Andrews. ¬†Andrews is versatile and can play at several positions. ¬†The Andes native was a second-team Delaware League All-Star at catcher last year and will back up Roberts. ¬†Andrews played left field in the opener at South Kortright and manned duties at first base in Roxbury.
Senior Natalie Shaffer brings experience and passion to the heart of the outfield in center field. ¬†A defensive field general, Shaffer has shown tremendous defensive improvement over the past two seasons. ¬†The senior is quiet and calm at the plate and hitting the ball well this spring.
New to the game, junior Caitlin Buerge is making an impression on the Margaretville coaches. ¬†Buerge is starting in right field and judges the ball well. Buerge drove in Margaretville‚Äôs first runs of the year in South Kortright.
Amanda Drizis is learning the nuances of outfield play. ¬†The sophomore has a very strong arm and is aggressive and strong at the plate. ¬†Drizis should see some time in right field and is a future pitching prospect.
Two seniors are working in the outfield. ¬†Senior Serene Williams is a utility outfielder. ¬†Williams is a great teammate who gives 100 percent effort on the field. ¬†Emily Friedman is playing softball for the first time.
Junior Julia Brophy returns to the outfield. ¬†Brophy has been slowed with an ankle injury in the early season and can man either corner of the outfield. ¬†The junior is looking consistent in the batting cage so far.
Courtney Williamson proves added outfield depth. ¬†The sophomore has a strong arm and some pop in her bat at the plate. ¬†Another sophomore, Carly Galatioto, is working on her infield skills. ¬†Good speed makes Galatioto a base-running threat. ¬†The sophomore utility player is targeting improving her batting skills over the season.
If the Blue Devils continue to improve, Margaretville could be a dark horse in the Delaware League‚Äôs Mountain Division race. ¬†With Devin Friedman returning to the mound, Hunter-Tannersville is an early favorite in the division. ¬†