AMERICAN DIVISION


POPE JOHN


Coach: Frank Canning (23rd season)


2019 record: 15-12


Key returners: Angie Barbero (Jr., CF), Maura Brown (Jr., INF/C), Emma Fernstrom (Jr., SS), Olivia Huffman (Jr., C), Aura Rispoli (Jr., OF), Maddie Sacchiero (Jr., P/3B/OF), Miah Ritchie (Jr., OF/C), Brianna Jones (So., P/INF), Paige O’Connor (So., 2B)


Key losses: Kayla Hillenbrand, Morgan Kasabri


Top newcomers: Hailey Clarke (Fr., INF/P), Marykate Garcia (Fr., INF/OF/P), Brooke Jacobus (Fr., INF), Ryleigh Manning (Fr., INF/OF), Morgan Prudenti (So., INF/OF), Meghan Sabo (Fr., C), Carly Sarisky (Fr., INF/OF/P), Karly Severinsen (Fr., INF/OF) Sarah Duchaney (So., INF/OF)


Outlook: The Lions have a pair of big losses to account for with their leading hitter and starting pitcher gone from last season’s team.


But last season proved Pope John’s young core’s potential as they knocked off Vernon and Lodi Immaculate over the course of the season. Sophomore Brianna Jones tied for the team lead with 29 hits, while junior Maddie Sacchiero led the team with 21 runs.


A strong junior class figures to move this team forward, and a strong incoming class gives Canning options to put a balanced team out on the diamond.


SPARTA


Coach: Dave Roman (first season)


2019 record: 6-15


Key returners: Olivia Bouma-Hannam (Sr., CF), Kate Esso (Sr., 3B), Stephanie Villar (Sr., OF), Delaney Forziati (Sr., SS), Emily Jacobs (Jr., 2B), Erin Esso (Jr., OF/UTIL) Alexa Acker (So., P/1B), Lauren Ambrosino (So., 1B), Mackenzie Maternak (So., P/OF)


Key losses: Justyne D’Astoli, Caroline Kepler


Top newcomers: Mason Munier (Fr., SS), Rylee Munier (Fr., LF), Brynn McCurry (Fr., C), Adrianna Remo (So., CF)


Outlook: The Spartans are led by veterans Olivia Bouma-Hannam and Kate Esso and are looking for their young pieces to take a big step forward after gaining experience last season.


With a handful of talented freshman filling in and a new coach in Dave Roman as well, the Spartans ae looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic down year in 2019.


“I felt it was going to be a very exciting season,” Roman said. “I was looking forward to seeing this team with some very good returning players and talented new members. I had no doubt in my mind that the 2020 team was going to improve a great deal from last season.”


FREEDOM DIVISION


JEFFERSON


Coach: Amy Pearce (third season)


2019 record: 13-9


Key returners: Emily Parete (Sr., P/IF), Jessica Pettit (Jr., OF), Christie Puglis (So., SS), Kim Barbieri (So., C/3B), Kennedy Kostecki (So., P), Melanie Bitondo (So., OF)


Key losses: Carly Wurster, Chelsea Bitondo, Jessica O’Malley, Taylor Haight


Top newcomers: Lexi Danyus (Jr., 2B), Sara Thomas (Jr., OF), Emily Mylod (Fr., OF), Abby Cooper (Fr., IF), Amelia VanLuvender (Fr., C/IF), Erin McKenna (Fr., 1B/3B), Emily Burke (Fr., P)


Outlook: The Falcons lost a bunch of talent with last season’s graduation, but they fill in those voids with a fresh group that is eager to learn and work hard.


Senior Emily Parete showcased the ability to dominate in flashes last season and will be looking to lead the charge. The rest of the team has a few seasons to be molded into a top team in the Freedom Division.


“The positive energy we have in our program now is something Jefferson has been desperately needing for a long time,” Pearce said. “We have a group of players who are willing to learn and have bought into the idea of having a culture of we before me’ that I have been trying to create since I got here three years ago.”


KITTATINNY


Coach: Heather Mate (17th season)


2019 record: 8-14


Top returners: Abby Martin (Sr., 1B), Ashley Romano (Sr., SS), Kailynn Pensado (Sr., OF), Meghan DePalma (Jr., OF), Ella Schoelier (Jr., LF), Reese Vanderhoof (Jr., 3B), Emily Wohlleber (So., C)


Key losses: Alexis Cooke, Olivia Catalfamo, Samantha Borkstrom


Top newcomers: Abby Roggenkamp (Sr., 2B), Renee Slobodzian (Sr., 2B), Alaine Fusco (So., 3B), Kierra Hubmaster (So., UTIL), Amanda Chadwick (Fr., P), Gwen Lightcap (Fr., P), Gia Checo-Gonzalez (Fr., OF/DP), Gina Kropp (Fr., UTIL/DP)


Outlook: The Cougars return the majority of their lineup from last season and have a solid foundation inside a tough NJAC Freedom Division.


They do have to find a replacement for ace Alexis Cooke, who is beginning her college career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Three-year varsity players Abby Martin and Ashley Romano were set to lead a Kittatinny team that has bought into coming together as one.


“They have spent all of their offseason and preseason, honing in on the fundamentals, focusing on executing the little things, and becoming a family,” Mate said. “I believe that this team has the means to win and stay in games, but it will come down to every person on the team to put forth their best effort in executing both offensively and defensively.”


LENAPE VALLEY


Coach: Bill Moore (13th season)


2019 record: 16-7


Key returners: Molly Giusti (Sr.), Kelly Earusso (Sr., INF) Alexia Lacatena (Jr., P), Erin Rafferty (Jr., SS/2B), Sam Romano (Jr., CF/2B), Jessie Stevenson (Jr., 3B/2B), Maddie Baisley (Jr., 1B), Bella Cautero (Jr., P)


Key losses: Renee Breuninger, Ann Campanile, Meghan Giusti, Sophie Ruggieri, Emily Araujo, Jess Burlew, Skylar Robinson


Top newcomers: Cameron Brown (Sr., C), Annie Catanzaro (Sr., INF), Hannah McGinn (Sr., P/OF), Skylar Ried (Sr., INF), Melissa VanKilingeren (Sr., UTIL), Alyssa Canfield (Fr., INF), Laney Kenny (Fr., INF/OF)


Outlook: The Patriots are a little bit of a mystery heading into the season.


On one hand, they have one of the most dominating forces in the circle and at the plate in junior Alexia Lacatena. On the other, the loss of seven critical seniors looms large heading into the 2020 season.


Erin Rafferty and Jessie Stevenson provided a lift in the lineup as sophomores last season. With the pitching prowess of Lacatena and several newcomers poised to fill in the gaps, Lenape Valley has the potential to get back to the North 1, Group 2 final for a third straight season.


NORTH WARREN


Coach: Dan Delany (sixth season)


2019 record: 7-15


Key returners: Sidny Treible (Sr., C), Mary Reduzzi (Sr., 1B), Sage Snyder (Jr., OF), Emma Froisland (Jr., OF/P), Carly Garriques (Jr., 3B), Maddigan McGuinness (Jr., P), Alexis Wohlers (Jr., OF), Madison Paseler (So., 2B), Olivia DiGiseppi (So., C/3B/DP), Ellie Pagano (So., OF)


Key losses: Erika Plut


Top newcomers: Amber Snyder (Fr., P), Kathryn Swistak (So., OF/3B), Lauren Palmer (Fr., 2B)


Outlook: A step up into the NJAC Freedom Division was a tough challenge for one of the smallest schools in the area a season ago.


The Patriots only mustered one division win while picking up six wins outside of the Freedom. This season, North Warren has brought back 10 players who were seeking to build off of the lessons they learned against a demanding schedule last season.


“I feel that we will be competitive within a very tough conference,” Delany said. “Our pitching needs to step up now that they have a year under their belt.”


NEWTON


Coach: Paul Filan (first season)


2019 record: 7-10


Key returners: Abby Wittig (Sr., 2B), Maddie Gore (Jr., SS), Amy Fehr (Jr., 1B), Kassandra Van Houten (Jr., C/3B), Maddie Freda (So., OF)


Key losses: Katie Maker, Carly Delorio, Payton Ernst, Brianna Bello, Riley Catalano


Top newcomers: Carly Mayhood (So., P/1B), Aubrey Carroll (So., OF), Olivia Ernst (Jr., OF), Paige DeVenezia (Jr., 3B), Maggie Golder-Ryan (Jr., P/OF), Meghan Artrip (Jr., P)


Outlook: The Braves are extremely young, with just one senior in Abby Wittig and new head coach Paul Filan, heading into the 2020 season.


But Wittig and junior shortstop Maddie Gore provide one of the most daunting 1-2 punches in the heart of any lineup in the area. A season ago, Gore led the area with an astounding .630 average with 34 hits, 22 runs and 20 RBI.


The key would be finding a reliable starter in the circle after graduating Katie Maker.


“The girls have been working hard and if a few can step up the Braves will be competitive in a tough Freedom Division,” Filan said.


VERNON


Coach: Kerry Ludeking (13th season)


2019 record: 17-3


Key returners: Victoria Grifone (Sr., P), Olivia Vizzini (Sr., 3B), Olivia Amorosi (Sr., OF), Kaitlyn Buurman (Jr., SS), Larissa Trongone (Sr., OF), Natalie Hasert (So., OF), Julie Vervaet (Sr., 1B)


Key losses: Natalie Alheidt


Top newcomers: Grace Frederick (Jr., C), Lucy McRae (So., C/3B), Sidney Grifone (So., P/1B), Lydia Alheidt (So., INF)


Outlook: The delay to the season has been tough for the Vikings, who believed they had the senior core to make a run at another tri-county title and a sectional title.


The defending NJAC Freedom Division champions were led by senior starter Tori Grifone, who was poised to eclipse 1,000 career strikeouts, and senior third baseman Olivia Vizzini in the cleanup spot.


Despite graduating Natalie Alheidt, who began her freshman season at St. John’s, the Vikings had plenty of piece around their senior core to have high hopes for 2020.


“We were going to be one of the toughest teams this year,” Ludeking said. “We were looking to climb back through the HWS, hold on to the conference title and work our way to our section of the state. We worked harder in the offseason than ever before.”


HACKETTSTOWN


Coach: Christina Sykora (sixth season)


2019 record: 15-11


Key returners: Carly Curcio (Sr., C), Katie Vreeland (Sr., 1B), Andrea McMahon (Jr., P), Lena Lutcza (Jr., 2B), Megan Doyle (Jr., OF/UTIL), Amy Wood (So., SS/3B)


Key losses: Molly O’Brien, Alivia Duran, Taylor Evans, Carly Mahal


Top newcomers: Riley Grant (Fr., OF), Jenna Gronau (Fr., INF)


Outlook: Carly Curcio is the last remaining piece that played on the Tigers team that won its first sectional title in program history in 2017. A season ago, she led the area with 38 hits.


Her return is big for Hackettstown, which is looking to win the NJAC Colonial Division outright after sharing it with Morris Tech and High Point last season. Junior Andy McMahon has two big seasons under her belt in the circle.


The losses of Molly O’Brien and Alivia Duran will need to be made up collectively.


"We were looking forward to piecing together the different talents of all of our players to create a competitive and ambitious group,” Sykora said. “Each and every year we set forth new goals and struggles to overcome and this group would have been hard to stop.”


HIGH POINT


Coach: James Seck (third season)


2019 record: 9-12


Key returners: Grace Musilli (Sr., 3B), Abbey Lazier (Sr., OF), Carylnn Cronen (So., SS), Hannah Doyle (So., P), Kassie Britt (Jr., UTIL), Kenna Boutillette (So., IF), Maddy Hennion (Jr., OF), Mollie Noonan (Jr., 1B) Mia Librizzi (Jr., C), Raeanne Teague (Jr., P)


Key losses: Haley Britt


Top newcomers: Alexandra Lazorczyk, Emma Rossi, Isabella Blanco


Outlook: The Wildcats took a major step forward last season by claiming a share of the NJAC Colonial Division title.


With a strong collection of holdover players from last season’s team, a winning season could be in the cards for High Point. And a unit that is predominantly made up of juniors is hoping to use this season to build on for the future.


“With this team of very talented young ladies and many starters returning to the field we are looking to compete in our league again and play to our ability,” Seck said. “We lost in the first round of playoffs last season and would like to improve on that and have an opportunity for more games in the playoffs.”


HOPATCONG


Coach: Paul Miller (seventh season)


2019 record: 4-15


Key returners: Caleigh Endean (Jr., RF/C), Marissa Fattorusso (Sr., CF), Angela Costanza (Sr., 1B), Christy Brennan (So.)


Key losses: Kayla O’Brien, Jackie Rodick


Top newcomers: Sydnee Henderson (So., P), Tatianna Lopez (So., SS)


Outlook: The Chiefs had numerous pieces to believe that they could step forward this season.


Sophomore starter Sydnee Henderson had a strong offseason preparing to step into the varsity circle, while Miller was looking for a transformative season from Christy Brennan. Senior Marissa Fattorusso brings back steady production at the plate.


“My outlook for the season is positive,” Miller said. “I think the girls softball team is moving in the right direction and it starts this year. Many of our players are sophomores.”


“... The big reason is the girls were only together for a short time but the effort and positive attitude on the field is what a program needs to have success.”


SUSSEX TECH


Coach: Ed Paiva (19th season)


2019 record: 3-16


Key returners: Sam Jennings (Sr., OF/C), Liz Crissey (Sr., OF), Hailey Langenfeld (Sr., P), Kat Rozycki (So., P), Summer Andrejack (So., 3B), Erykka Leeman (So., 1B)


Key losses: Brianne Janke


Top newcomers: Lauren Mosner (So., SS), Emily Kinkead (So., 2B), Mikaela Hall (Fr., C/UTIL), Erika Little (Fr., OF)


Outlook: The Mustangs had leadership in critical positions on the field with Sam Jennings behind the plate and Hailey Langenfeld looking to take a step forward in the circle.


Sussex Tech has a number of sophomores that are looking to build toward the future and provide a glimpse of what could be possible by the time they are seniors.


WALLKILL VALLEY


Coach: Sarah Hamm (first season)


2019 record: 2-14


Key returners: Emily Kays (Sr., 1B), Isabella Stecher (Jr., OF) Natalie Armstrong (So., C), Maddie Bowden (So., P/OF), Stephanie Hutnick (Jr., P/IF)


Key losses: Francesca Ciasullo, Hannah Sekelsky


Top newcomers: Giana Carreiro (Fr., 3B)


Outlook: The Rangers are looking to turn around their record one game at a time with a handful of key contributors returning for the 2020 season.


With new head coach Sarah Hamm at the helm, moving forward will come not only during games but in every phase of preparation.


“This season will look much different than anticipated due to the circumstances but our goals remain the same; we're looking to improve each day at practice and leave it all out on the field each game,” Hamm said. “ ... We have a group of returners who are determined to help make positive changes and a group of underclassmen who are hungry to help in making that difference.”