Last season, the Carlow softball team finished with 19-20-1 overall record, including a 5-15 River States Conference mark and a 10-8 United States Collegiate Athletic Conference mark. However, those numbers do not quite illustrate the success of the team.
Head coach Bob Sirko guided the Celtics to the RSC tournament, as well as the USCAA National Championship Tournament, where the Celtics finished third. During the 2016 season, the Celtic finished second in the USCAA Tournament.
In the RSC, the Celtics ranked third in fielding percentage (0.950). Carlow pitcher Caitlyn Suter (SO/Monaca, PA) finished her freshman season fifth in earned run average (1.95).
However, with the graduation of nine seniors, a lot of positions needed to be filled.
This season, the Celtics welcome many new members. On the 21-player roster, 11 are freshman. The freshman class includes Keyara Morgan (Claysburg-Kimmel HS), Adrianna Gottheld (Charleroi HS), Elaina Tkaczenko (Avonworth HS), Lauren Gaona (Ambridge HS), Olivia Graff (Highlands HS), Samantha Wampler (Baldwin HS), Annamarie Osiecki (Villa Maria HS), Alysa Fairman (Thomas Jefferson HS), Tristan Voss (Mohawk HS), Lexie Young (Leechburg Area HS), and Kasey Wolford (Burrell HS).
Another new addition is sophomore pitcher Abby Stroud (pictured above, right), who transferred from St. Joseph’s University, an NCAA Division I institution in Philadelphia.
Shortstop Kelsey Geyer, from Woodland Hills High School, and pitcher Nicole Hall (pictured above, left), from Jeannette Senior High School, are the squad’s only two seniors.
With a big portion of the team being underclassmen, Geyer and Hall are tasked with a significant leadership role. They are determined to use last season as fuel for this season.
Just when the team nearly lost hope last season, they shocked the entire conference.
On April 22, the Celtics traveled to compete against Rio Grande. The RedStorm was ranked No. 18 in the NAIA and No. 1 in the conference. It was the RedStorm’s senior day and they carried a 26-game winning streak into the contest.
The first game of the double header was a tough 12-0 loss for the Celtics. However, during the next game something changed. Suter said it was like a “switch” went off.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Carlow senior Allison Hryadil, now a new assistant coach for the Celtics, hit a game-winning three-run home run. The Celtics went on to score seven runs on seven hits and two Rio errors in the inning.
Suter said one of the team’s main goals for this season is to once again beat Rio Grande.
However, before the Celtics turn their focus to conference play, they will begin spring training. The squad will travel to Cocoa Beach Florida for Space Coast Spring Training, where it is scheduled to play seven games.
The first game back in Pennsylvania will be at home Friday, March 16, at 3pm against Waynesburg.