Women’s Softball Looks to Return to the MAAC Tournament With the Help of a Promising Freshman Class

The softball season for the lady Red Foxes is officially under way. After rain pushing back opening day by just a day against Green Bay, Marist starts the season 1-1 after playing a doubleheader. It should be an exciting season for the Red Foxes as the team has high expectations after a 35-22 record in 2019 and falling just short of the MAAC championship.  

Marist has put out a talented group of girls throughout the years around the diamond. Most notably, freshman have taken the opportunity they are given and running with it. The Red Foxes have the reputation of inhabiting successful freshman softball players.  

“Coach Joe [Ausanio] does a great job of recruiting girls not only for their talent, but for their passion and their determination. As a freshman, I had a great class of seniors to look up to and learn from,” sophomore sensation Calista Phippen said. “And I think we have the same case this year. Having great leadership along with passion, drive, and persistence is what helps our freshman classes excel.”  

Phippen opened up a ton of eyes during her freshman campaign last season. She was voted NFCA Top 25 Freshman, MAAC Co-Rookie of the Year, First Team All-MAAC, and to the MAAC All-Rookie Team. Phippen is a prime example of freshman success at Marist.  

“I believe I was successful my freshman year because I had such a supportive group of girls behind me,” Phippen added. “I knew going into each game that I could put everything into every pitch and play and that my team would do the same for me. Having mutual trust and equally competitive drive really helped boost my confidence and, I believe, is the reason why our team was so successful.”  

Having a supportive cast around you surely can make you a better player. A Marist softball fan commented on the freshman success over the years. “Strong team players care about their work, the team, and the team’s work. The girls show up every game with this commitment and care up front. They want to give a good effort, and they want their teammates to reiterate that. That is why freshman do so well up here. They just watch what the older girls are doing and imitate that.”  

The team chemistry starts with Coach Ausanio. Marist Athletic Director Tim Murray called Ausanio in the summer of 2009 looking for a new coach after his predecessor unexpectedly stepped down. The squad was left without a skipper, but Ausanio graciously accepted the offer.  

Fast forward eleven years, that panicked call turned out to be a terrific hire. Ausanio has won two MAAC Coach of the Year Awards in 2011 and 2016, won two MAAC regular season championships in 2014 and 2016, and is the wins leader amongst all Marist softball coaches.  

The Red Foxes look to win a MAAC title in 2020 and believe they have the roster to deliver just that.  

“We’re taking each weekend game by game, pitch by pitch, but I am definitely most excited for the MAAC Tournament. Falling just short of the Championship title continues to fuel our team to play better and play harder,” Phippen said.  

When asked about the freshman class this season and if anyone stands out specifically, Phippen said, “Every single one of our freshmen brings something spectacular to the table. This class is extremely impressive and talented. You definitely want to keep an eye out for Shea Walsh; she’s going to do incredible things here.”  

Marist has something to prove this spring. It is a team that is considerably young, but the season will bring tons of excitement. Being a young team, there may be some bumps along the way. With the few upperclassmen on the team, they will be looked upon to assist the underclassmen and prepare them for the tough and long contest for the MAAC. If the Red Foxes can play to their full potential and demonstrate good leadership, then it should be a successful season. 

Edited by Nick Aprea

Header photo from Marist Athletics

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