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Preview: “Hope Springs Eternal” for New Milford Softball

Jessica Moskal, Writer

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The New Milford Lady Knights softball team finished last season with a record of 16-9, ending with a 3-0 loss to Verona in the Quarterfinals of the NJSIAA tournament. This loss was especially difficult for five players–five starting seniors who had played together on the varsity team for nearly two-three years together–who wanted to go all the way and were willing to give it their all just one more time. 

Despite this harrowing loss, hope springs eternal as Coach Fiscina and Kayley Coss y Leon state: 

When asked about the team’s prospects for the season, Coach Fiscina stated that “I have been with the program for eight years, and every year we have had a competitive season. So, I feel that we could continue with those traditions of being competitive in the league and the county. We will put ourselves in a good position to approach a league title and going into the postseason for the state tournament. Kayley echoed this sentiment, stating, “I think we are going to be okay. We lost a lot of girls last year but if we work hard enough we will be able to get back there.”

Filling those five starting spots could very well be difficult, and as Coach Fiscina says, “It’s hard to fill any position, regardless of the number. If it’s five spots, ten spots, or even just one spot. But we are a program that is always looking into the future. So we polish people in certain positions, whether it’s bringing them up to varsity for a few games or asking them to play JV for a full season to get experience, effectively grooming them for a position that could become available in the following year. But every year we try to go in with an open mind as far as who we put in each position and who comes out for tryouts, and who will give their best. Its open race to get to these five positions and the five girls who graduated will be greatly missed. But we have to look forward and keep moving.” Kayley agreed with Coach Fiscina, adding that as much as she may miss the graduated seniors, “I think we have a lot of upcoming players who are fresh and ready to learn the positions.” When asked which position she hoped to play this season, Kayley joked “right bench” before responding that she “usually plays second base or shortstop” followed by a “we will see.”

Prompted by goals and potential “championship” talk, Coach Fiscina responded that “You have to take it one game at a time, and right now we’re just going through tryouts, so it’s hard to determine where we will end up. We also have a lot of work to do as we do every year. Our goal is always to succeed in the postseason and to compete for a league championship. And that has become the norm. It’s not normal for us to go into a season saying “Well, we will just hope for the best.” We are looking to compete for a league title and in the state tournament. So, you know that’s where we have our goals set, but we have to start day one with tryouts and keep getting better and working every single day. Kayley is willing to work towards that team goal, emphasizing that “I think that is the goal for everyone. So I don’t see why we can’t.”

When asked about the contributions of individual players, Coach Fiscina said, “The senior group is a unique group. I was able to coach most of them as sophomores and some even as freshmen at the JV level.  So, it’s been nice to see them grow. I think Manisha Oza in the top of the lineup and in center field with her speed, and intelligence on the field definitely helps.  Also, her peppiness is a great thing. I think Jess Moskal filling in the spot for MaryKate at first base might be something to look at and her bat in the lineup is definitely something we need.  Kristen Bevacqua has been a three-year Varsity starter and was pulled up to JV her freshman season and has been a big contributor to the softball program all four years. And the rest of the seniors also do put in a major contribution to help out the team.” Kayley emphasized the team effort, saying that “I think we all have something to give; there isn’t just one star player.  I think each player will make an impact to help us get to the championship.”

Finally, Coach Fiscina left with some parting advice regarding what he tells the girls before each season: “Your goal is to get better every day.  When you walk on the practice field or to scrimmage a game get better, don’t stay the same, don’t get worse, GET BETTER!  Find ways to work hard and to challenge each other. You don’t want to put the end right in your eyes at day one, it is a long season and a long way to get to the end.  It a physical struggle, an emotional struggle so you just have to keep the focus on is getting better every single day.”

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Preview: “Hope Springs Eternal” for New Milford Softball