Madonna Softball Team Will Be Young This Season
WEIRTON — The Madonna softball team posted a 13-4 record last year but fell to Wheeling Central, the eventual state champion in the sectional finals.
If veteran coach Chris Conti’s team is going to match or improve upon that this year, he’ll have to have several young players step up. But, Conti is confident his team will be in the thick of things when the sectional tournament rolls around in May.
In addition to losing graduated first team all-state pitcher Katie Gasvoda, the veteran of 25 years as head coach of the Blue Dons graduated four other seniors and had a pair of sisters — Sophia and Karena Recrosio — who also made the Class A all-state team, transferring to Linsly.
The other departing graduates include Gianna Mascio, Kearen Kush, Kasey Canei and August Adkins. On top of that, junior Jaddyn Kush, a returning letterwinner at catcher, is out for the season with an injured knee.
“We will be a young team, but a good young team,” said Conti, who is no stranger to coaching young teams. “These kids have been working hard, and several of them have experience. We have Mikayla Sole, Gia Riccadonna, Addie Backel, Micheala Battista and Maddie Daugherty returning as letterwinners. They will be the ones we will count on to be our leaders this year.”
Sole and Riccadonna are seniors, along with Jordan Schubert, who is out for softball for the first time. Backel is the only junior on the team, and Battista and Daugherty, along with Miranda Sole, Jordan Dillon and Adriani Lenhart, are sophomores. Freshmen Nina Daugherty, Abbie Brakaw and Morgan Owens round out the squad.
“We have two good pitchers in Maddie and Nina Daugherty to take over for Gasvoda, who is a pitching candidate at Robert Morris University,” Conti said. “Maddie was our second-leading hitter last year as a sophomore with a .457 average. She also plays shortstop, as does Nina.
“We are going to have to move a lot of people around to positions other than which they played last year, and most of them are adapting very well.”
Conti added that Miranda Sole, for example, played third base a year ago but has moved to catcher and is catching on fast. Brakaw also is a catcher. Riccadonna will move to left field, and Mikayla Sole will move to center field.
With Maddie Daugherty at shortstop, the remainder of the infield will include Addie Backel at second base, Battista at either third base or first base and Schubert also will play first base. Lenhart will move to right field, with Dillon and Owens vying for playing time in the outfield.
“One of the good things about this group is they all have great attitudes, which makes them very coachable,” Conti said. “They have big hearts and want to win. I’m confident we will do very well. We have good team speed, and our defense should be solid.
“The two young pitchers are doing very well, and I think our defense behind them will be good. They all have good arms and know the game. Those that will be in the infield all have some experience there, and our outfield has plenty of speed to chase down balls out there and they too are experienced, but at different outfield positions.”
Assisting Conti this year will be Mary Beth Arlia, Joe Gasvoda, Jordan Allen, Amanda Paul and Janna Myers.