The snow is starting to melt here in Poughkeepsie as the Marist Softball Team kicks off their season. Their record read 27-32 after last year and they finished in 6th place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). While they were unable to complete the 2018 season with a winning record, they buckled down and fought for nine wins in the conference.
Head Coach Joe Ausanio is returning for his 11th season with the Red Foxes and looks to lead the team to a MAAC title. “Our goal is to get back to the MAAC championship this season and win it, and I think we have a team very capable of doing that,” Ausanio said of the team’s goals for the season. “If we can get ourselves to the MAAC tournament we can put ourselves in a good shot to get back to the NCAAs.”
This year the team will be captained by Red Shirt Junior Claire Oberdorf who is also a member of the current 20-9 women’s basketball team, as well as three seniors including pitcher Megan Beiermeister, outfielder Casey Page, and second baseman Brandi Coon. The most exciting part about this team is the young talent on the roster, supported by a strong senior core. This squad features seven experienced and title hungry seniors. “Even the other seniors who weren’t picked as captains, they are all leaders,” Ausanio said.
One sophomore stands out especially as she has already made a name for herself by winning multiple awards after her strong freshman season. Shortstop Caroline Baratta took home MAAC Rookie of the Year, while also being selected for the 1st team all MAAC squad. “I’m very honored to be named to all of them, and I know this year I have to live up to the all MAAC, and I’m really hoping to pick up where I left off,” said Baratta. Last year Caroline dominated for the Foxes, leading the team in hits (66), runs scored (38), doubles (12), and triples (4). Caroline also added three home runs to go with her 24 RBIs. What makes this even more impressive is she only struck out 11 times while playing in all 59 games, batting in the leadoff spot. You could say Baratta has already broken out because of her outstanding rookie season, but she looks to capitalize and return even stronger in year two. This past fall, she was selected to the Preseason all MAAC team while leading the Foxes to an 8-0 record.
Another player to watch out for this upcoming season is junior outfielder Ali Milam. Milam is looking to build off of an amazing sophomore year, which included her batting in 54 runs, tying the Marist Softball single season record. Milam also slugged 11 homers, and had a 16-game on-base streak. Following her breakout season, she was awarded with 1st team all MAAC honors. Coach Ausanio looks to Milam to have another strong season. “I think she should have been voted player of the year in the conference. I expect her to pick up where she left off,” he said.
Ausanio and his squad are particularly looking to be dominant in their MAAC matchups this season. “Our MAAC games, they are all so important,” he said, stressing this year’s focus on getting back to the top of the conference. “Anybody can beat anybody in this conference,” he added.
While it appears that the Marist bats are in good hands with underclassmen Milam and Baratta at the plate, the pitching rotation will be looking to put away many opponents this year. “We have three seniors: Kallen Leeseberg, Megan Beiermeister and Brooke Peterson. They all have experience, and they all have pitched in big games for us,” Ausanio said. Ausanio’s bullpen will also feature sophomore Nicole Teague. “At the end of the year she stepped up in the MAAC tournament and was probably our number one pitcher,” Ausanio said. Teague’s efforts were recognized as she was voted onto the all tournament team.
Lastly, Ausanio mentioned his excitement for freshman Calista Phippen who earned two time New York State Gatorade Player of the Year. The combination of three experienced seniors combined with two talented young arms bodes well for the Foxes in 2019.
Ausanio has nothing but excitement for what looks to be a great season. He encouraged Marist students’ support at the games: “A nice spring day, come sit down on the wall, look over the river and watch some Red Fox wins.”
Edited by Meaghan Roche & Dan Statile
Header art by Kristin Flanigan