Yet the team’s beginnings in the season were plagued by disadvantages and misfortune. “We lost Bianca Guidi ’18 … for a good part of the beginning of the season because she broke her foot … We ended up only having nine for half the season,” said first baseman Emily DiLella ’16. This magnified the issue with lack of players, as most teams had double the amount of players at every game. The lack of players means that there aren’t many players on the bench, and everyone has to play for the majority of each game. “This week, we’ve had five games in six days, [which was] pretty grueling,” DiLella said.
Even though the team faced these disadvantages, there were positive effects in the end. “I think [we did so well] because we were all returning varsity players and we knew each other’s styles and strengths and weaknesses and we worked together as a group,” said catcher Christina Cuomo ’17.
“I think because we are a much smaller team, we all know each other so much better and that translates into how we play. We are more comfortable with each other on the field because it’s going to be just us ten,” DiLella said.
Another advantage with having so many players return came from a strong foundation. “It was really nice having all the foundation work we did last season [coming together with] those girls returning, and we were able to put together a really good season,” said Coach Marissa Soprano.
The season started looking up after the win against West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South in the middle of the season. “I think we really hit our stride when we beat South. That was a turning point.” said DiLella. Starting the game out losing 5–0, DiLella recounted her team’s thoughts. “We all came together in the middle of the game and said, ‘We can do this,’ and ‘South isn’t that good’, and we turned it around. It was super exciting but also super nerve-wracking as the innings kept going because … you didn’t want to lose it for the team.”
The team seems to be satisfied with how the season has gone up to the start of the State tournament. “I’m proud of us for getting to States and I’m proud of the season we’ve had, and no matter what, I’m happy to have spent four years in the PHS softball program,” DiLella said. “We’re happy with how we’ve played and [we] want to see how far we can go in States.”
However, the team lost its first game in the tournament against Monroe High School, 2–3, ending its season. Nonetheless, the team is still proud of its accomplishments. “I was extremely impressed as to how we played. I’m glad that was our last game together,” said Nancy Gray ’17, a pitcher and shortstop. “It was a great game to end on, even though we lost. The hitting came and we didn’t make any errors on the field. While we were all sad to lose, it was a good last game to have together.”
Despite not making it past the first round of the state tournament, the team has had a year to remember. “We’ve been better than we’ve ever have been,” Cuomo said. “We’ve been playing a lot of hard teams, but we’ve been holding our own. We never used to be able to stand against these teams like Robbinsville and Allentown, but we’ve done better than usual.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” DiLella said. “We’ve had five seniors who’ve been in the program for four years, and it all culminated in this final season.”