Brookdale softball begins 2000 season in Maryland


he 2000 Brookdale Community College women’s softball team won’t have to deal with the high expectations of the recent Jersey Blue teams.

Last year’s team began the season ranked No. 1 in the country among junior colleges, and advanced to the Junior College World Series where they finished fifth. The Blues had a 38-7 overall record. It was the fourth straight year that Bo Scannapieco’s BCC women had won the Region XIX title and qualified for the World Series, making the Middletown college one of the top programs in the country.

But with many of its heavyweights — including All-American shortstop Maryann Soares — having graduated, the Jersey Blues begin the 2000 season with uncertainty. Will they be reloading or rebuilding?

Becky Barrett, Kristy Szeigis and Janine Leone are the returning starters that Scannapieco will build the 2000 Jersey Blues around. All three were All-Garden State Athletic Conference selections last spring and they are the only sophomores on the team.

Barrett, the centerfielder, batted .397 while scoring and batting in 34 runs. She had 11 doubles, a triple and two home runs. Szeigis, who can play third base or catcher, hit .358 with 44 RBI and 46 runs scored. She also drilled five home runs.

Leone is perhaps the most important returning player because of her position — pitcher. Two-thirds of last year’s rotation, Lauren Larson (13-4 with a 3.06 era) and Carol Hilton (14-3, 1.77 era), has graduated, and it will be up to Leone to step up and be the ace of the staff. She certainly has the credentials. Last year in 60 1/3 innings, she was 11-0 and had a 1.51 era. She also authored four shutouts.

"Janine brings experience," said Scannapieco. "She won a Region XIX game for us and pitched in the World Series. Her strengths are her control and ball movement. She has five pitches that she can throw for strikes."

Joanne DeVito and Lauren Zilinski are slotted to fill the other starting positions in the rotation. Both are first-year players with potential. DeVito will play shortstop when not pitching and Zilinski will play first base.

Other newcomers expected to make big contributions include catcher Nicole Spatz, outfielder Kristen Wardlow, second baseman Meghan Barrett (Becky’s sister), outfielder Sherri Cate and first base/shortstop Edna Coonan. Rounding out the 2000 roster are outfielders Erica Mayer and Kelly Mullins.

Missing from the Brookdale lineup will be the thumpers that have been such a big part of the team’s identity.

Soares has moved onto Monmouth University and taken with her her .521 batting average, 76 RBI, 71 runs scored, 17 doubles, five triples and 14 home runs.

Also gone are Toni Penniman (.430, 61 RBI, 15 doubles and four home runs), Kelly Fairclough (.399 and 71 runs scored) and Stephanie Leonard (.338 and 57 runs scored).

"I know that we won’t have the power that we’ve had, but there are other ways we can score, hit and run, making contact," explained Scannapieco.

Brookdale begins the 2000 campaign today in Maryland against Hartford in a doubleheader. In fact, their first three games of the year are all doubleheaders. They play a twin bill against Dundalk and two more against Catonsville tomorrow and Friday.

Brookdale plays its home opener on March 28 against Bergen in a Region XIX game.

"It’s too early to tell what to expect," said Scannapieco. "We’re young. We hope to improve as the season goes on. The girls are working hard and they have a real great attitude. There’s a lot of enthusiasm."

Scannapieco has three areas of concern.

"There are three things we need to do to be where we’ve been the last five or six years," he explained. "Our pitchers have potential. We’re not solid right now on defense because we’ve had to move kids around to different positions, but I think the defense will take care of itself over time.

"The bottom of the lineup is a concern," he added. "I think one to five we’re fine. But in the past we’ve been strong one through nine. We’ll need the bottom of the lineup to step up."