WESTON, Mass. - Just about everything about the 2018 Regis (Mass.) softball team is new. New conference, new coach, new - and we mean totally different - lineup.
Entering its first season under new head coach Tara Petrocelli-McGloin, the Pride returns just six players from last year's roster, leaving the door wide open for new players to step up and make an impact.
"We have a lot of great freshmen that look up to the upperclassmen," said Petrocelli-McGloin. "I think everybody has the potential right now to make the contributions we're going to need."
From the perspective of Petrocelli-McGloin, however, every player was a new player, as she was hired less than a month before the start of preseason practices. "Getting to know each other and getting to spend a lot of time together - that stuff has to happen and had to happen quick," she said of getting to know the team. "We spend a lot of time together. The kids are always in and out of the office, so that's been helpful. The more time we get to spend together, the better it gets for everybody."
One of the six players returning to the Pride roster this season is 2017 New England Collegiate Conference Pitcher of the Year Madi McLellan (Fremont, N.H.), a player Petrocelli-McGloin refers to as the team's "anchor." "She's all about taking on the pressure and wants to continue to work hard to succeed, and knows what she needs to do. She doesn't seem to get rattled, she doesn't seem to get shaken by anything, and that's really who you want to have the ball when it's the seventh inning and it's a 0-0 game." McLellan, who threw a perfect game against Daniel Webster last April 22, finished last season with an ERA of 2.15 on her way to a record of 11-9. She also shattered the program record for strikeouts in a season with 135 in just 130.1 innings pitched.
Also returning to the Pride roster this season is the team's lone senior and McLellan's primary battery-mate behind the plate Alexa Nejaime (Sandisfield, Mass.). Nejaime was one of the Pride's leaders both offensively and defensively last season, ranking second on the Pride in slugging percentage and tied for second in fielding percentage. Juniors Brianna Napoleone (Medford, Mass.), Kelsey Grimard (Pelham, N.H.), and Allie Petillo (West Sayville, N.Y.) and sophomore Ellery Rasmussen (Kingston, N.H.) make up the rest of the Pride's returning veterans.
As the team has done for the last three seasons, the Pride will open its 2018 season in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The season opener against Hilbert College is the first of eight games in six days for the Pride, and Petrocelli-McGloin expects her team to compete in all eight. "It's about competing. Competing every pitch, competing every inning," she said.
Upon returning to Weston, Petrocelli-McGloin's squad holds its home opener on March 22 at Regis Field with a pair against Eastern Nazarene, and opens its first season in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference on the road at St. Joseph's (Conn.) on Sunday, March 25. "No one really knows what to expect (in the GNAC), so we'll all be able to navigate that together," said Petrocelli-McGloin. "My hope is that every single game we get better - that we compete and keep competing - and then see where we are at the end of the year."