Young, talented Bulldogs looking for experience

MANCHESTER — There will be a mix of new and familiar faces for Lisa Kelly to coach this season on the Burr and Burton softball team. The second-year coach will again have a team of mostly underclassman filling out the diamond for BBA this spring, but Kelly is very excited about her talented group of Bulldogs and is looking forward to seeing her club gain a lot of varsity experience throughout the season.

"We're still a young team, with a couple veteran players coming back from last season," Kelly said. "A lot of the girls on our team still need to gain a lot of varsity playing experience, so this will be more of a teaching year for most of those player. Still though, we have a lot athleticism on our team and that will help in some games this season."

The biggest hole the Bulldogs will need to fill this season is starting pitching with last year's ace, Darien Halliday, graduating last spring.

One of the Bulldogs' top returners from last year in senior Jennifer Kiernan, who will take over the pitching duties for BBA this season.

Kiernan had a great season debut in the Bulldogs' 17-1 win over Twin Valley, totaling nine strikeouts in the contest.

Along with Kiernan, Kelly said that junior Amber Morris will also see some time on the mound for BBA.

Morris will predominantly be manning center field again for the Bulldogs after doing a great job in the outfield last year.

"It's going to be tough replacing a consistent pitcher in Darien, but we feel have a couple arms that can pitch well for us this year," Kelly said. "Both Jennifer and Amber are good players and will give us everything they have on the mound."

After having a great second-half of the season last year, sophomore Brianna Mayne returns to the Bulldogs' lineup and is expected to be one of the team's best players this spring.

Mayne will play shortstop for BBA this season and Kelly believes Mayne is on track to have a great season for the Bulldogs.

Next to Mayne at third base will Angelica Scarlotta for the Bulldogs, while on right side of the diamond at second base will stand senior Emma Gras.

Finishing out the infield at first base this season will be freshman Finley Forrester, who will have big shoes to fill this season in replacing last year's top hitter Rachel Senecal.

Kelly said that she's not looking for Forester to duplicating what Senecal did last year, but believes that the freshman will be a key contributor for the team this season and has the potential to be a great player for the program in the future.

Senecal, on the other hand, will make the transition from player to coach for the Bulldogs this spring after graduating last May.

Behind the plate for the Bulldogs this season will stand sophomore Matea Cusack, who saw time at catcher towards the end of last season.

Junior Anna Osnow returns for the Bulldogs this spring and will play both corner outfield positions, while freshman Rachel Hale is another outfielder that is expected to be a key contributor this spring.

Freshman Kaitlyn North and sophomore Angelia Caggiano are two other players that will see time in the outfield, said Kelly, and with both being very athletic, can play a multiple positions, as can junior Bailey Petry.

Sophomore Azurah Booth-Gage also will bring experience in the outfield for BBA after gaining a lot playing time in field last year.

After a long preseason of being stuck indoors practicing, Kelly said it was great to see the Bulldogs start off the season well in its season opening win over Twin Valley.

"We started off the season the best way we could with a great team win," Kelly said. "Our team hit the ball great and we had great pitching from Jennifer as well. After having a tough preseason, it was great to see us start the season off with a win."

Kelly also thinks the long preseason helped the team in a way, by helping them build great team chemistry. Becoming a close knit team will be a big help for BBA as they dive into the season after spring break.

"With being stuck indoors for most of the preseason, I think it help bring our team together more and that will help us out a lot when we start playing more games," Kelly said. "We have a group of girls that love to play softball and that will make this season fun to watch."

The Bulldogs will next play host to Black River on Monday.

Reach sports editor Steven Bassin at 802-447-7567 ext 112 or @SBassin_Banner


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