Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
OXFORD – For a team that lost some key players to graduation, the Oxford Lady Pirates are pretty confident going into this new softball season and with good reason.
With senior co-captain catcher Sarah Smith, who coach Jamie Hetherman calls “The Rock,” leading the way, the Pirates have plenty of offensive fire power returning to their lineup.
Smith, a second team SWCL all-star, hit a hefty .403 last season, while teammates sophomore Evelyn Marquis batted .452, and junior co-captain third baseman Jamie Brodeur was around .400 all last season, giving the Pirates at least three big bats in the middle of their lineup.
“Sarah had the team practicing for a solid two weeks with her captain’s practice and I think the jumpstart we had put us in a better position going into the season,” said Hetherman. “The girls are in better shape, they are ready to go, so I have to give Sarah a hats off for that.”
Hetherman acknowledged the drop off and losing leaders like Nicole “The Franchise” Mangaudis, Kayde McCarthy, and first baseman Lauren Puishys, but he likes the experience he has returning.
“With Sarah being a four-year starter and Jamie Brodeur being a three-year starter and Evelyn being the athlete she is, it’s not much of a drop offensively from last season. Sarah is an outstanding leader, the girls like her and respect her.”
“What we are really missing from last year is Mangaudis. She was an outstanding pitcher. Nicole had four or five different pitches, where Evelyn is still working at it. Pitching is the hard part and moving Marquis from short to pitch is a big thing as well.”
The plan has been to make Marquis the number one starter and Hetherman thinks she is ready to take on that role but will go in a slightly different direction this season, unlike the last four seasons, when Mangaudis pitched every inning of every game. Sophomore Erika Fradsham will also see some time on the mound.
Smith, who said it’s a big deal for her being captain, will be the one catching Marquis and she said the sophomore “has excelled” in her new role and is confident she will get the job done.
Overall she likes what she sees in her team, “I am not worried, we have a good group of girls here,” said Smith, who has acknowledged that it was hard to lose last year’s co-captains Mangaudis and McCarthy.
Another player who looks to have a key role is sophomore Callie Andrews, who will move to shortstop when Marquis is on the mound. Both Smith and Brodeur said that Andrews is a good contact hitter and will get on base.
The Pirates open Wednesday, April 3, at David Prouty in Spencer and will be at home on Friday, April 5, against Northbridge.
Oxford Lady Pirates schedule
TBA at Southbridge
04/03/13 at David Prouty
04/08/13 at Bartlett
04/10/13 at Auburn
04/19/13 at Hopedale
04/24/13 at Tantasqua
04/25/13 at Uxbridge
04/29/13 at Quaboag
05/03/13 Shepherd Hill
05/09/13 at Millbury