by Tom Utescher
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s varsity softball players are mixing business with pleasure during their spring vacation, fine-tuning their game on a training trip down south, while at the same time escaping the cold temperatures that persisted through March back at home.
The Blue Devils’ last scheduled outing before the start of Spring Break, an appearance at Shipley School, was washed out when rain arrived on the afternoon of March 19, but the locals already had their bags packed to head out of town. They next day they travelled down to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where they were slated to play teams hailing from New Jersey to Arkansas at the Ripken Experience, a warm-weather athletic complex operated by baseball hall-of-famer Cal Ripken, Jr. and his family.
With the loss of a strong class in 2012 and some injuries to key players last spring, the Blue Devils finished a disappointing 5-7 in the Inter-Ac League after consistently being a title contender in previous seasons.
The SCH Class of 2013 took with it four-year varsity player Michelle Cybularz, who primarily played third base or shortstop, but was capable of filling in as both a catcher and a relief pitcher for the Blue Devils.
Although her classmate Callan Goldman saw action occasionally in the outfield, Cybularz was the only everyday player who graduated from last year’s team, so that leaves SCH with a lot of experienced varsity athletes back on the diamond.
Sophomore pitcher Madi Saltzman has plenty of elite travel team experience, and she was already throwing for the SCH varsity as an eighth-grader. As a freshman last spring, she batted clean-up for the Blue Devils.
On the receiving end of Saltzman’s pitches was Julia Moriarty, who returns as a junior. Moriarty’s senior sister, Jenna, is the most experienced player on the roster and will hold down the shortstop position again this spring. The only other senior on the young SCH squad is Emily Miller-McGlone, who started in right field in 2013.
Junior Emily Chicchi earned a starting role in left field last spring, and fellow junior Kathleen Foley was stationed in center. Unfortunately, Foley is still sidelined following an ACL injury that occurred during soccer season in the fall. On a positive note, freshman Ava Tokarek was auditioned for that vacant position in the pasture, and has performed very well, according to veteran SCH skipper Stephanie Mill.
First baseman Brigit McDermott is a fundamentally sound, solid junior, and fellow 11th-grader Erica Schmidt saw varsity action last year, appearing as the Devils’ designated player.
Sophomore Ashley Lubisky was a starter all last season, beginning the year at second base and also serving at third base when injuries caused some shifts in the defensive alignment. Her classmate Betsy Sheppard stepped up to play second base late in the season.
The Blue Devils are hoping to be a part of what could be a four-team race for the Inter-Ac League crown in 2014. Penn Charter is the defending league champion, and Agnes Irwin and Episcopal Academy should be strong title contenders, as they were last spring.