The Warwick Vets and Pilgrim softball teams combined to go 24-8 last season in Division II.
So, with four key members of that 14-2 Vets squad now at Pilgrim, the Pats should be extremely competitive this season, although they’ll be making the jump to Division I.
But, even with all the talent that Pilgrim has this season, it will be forced to settle in with new players and a new coach in a new division.
“It’s an ongoing process,” Pilgrim head coach Paul Kennedy, who served in the same capacity at Vets last season, said. “A lot of the girls played together on other teams, so they’re friends. The challenge is going to be determining who is going to play where. Some girls are going to play different positions (than in the past).”
In the circle, Kennedy will start a familiar pitcher in Caitlyn Fallon, who dominated D-II opponents as a freshman for Vets last season. She earned valuable experience in her first high school season, and Kennedy has been impressed with how she’s looked in the preseason.
Fallon is set to log a majority of the innings in the circle, but seniors Morgan Almon, who was the starting pitcher for Pilgrim the last two years, and Kayla Morin have also encountered quite a bit of success the last few years, providing Kennedy with depth and options at the pitching position.
“She looks very, very strong,” Kennedy said of Fallon. “She will get a lot of starts out there, but I’m mindful that we have other girls that can pitch in Kayla Morin and Morgan Almon. I have three better-than-quality pitchers.”
Olivia King will be back for her junior season after compiling a team-high 38 RBIs and an average of .559 as just a sophomore for the Pats last spring. She’ll start behind the plate once again, giving Pilgrim a boost both offensively and defensively.
“I like what I see from her,” Kennedy said of King. “She handles the pitchers well and can control the running game.”
Fellow junior Karly Evans will start at first base following a pair of impressive seasons as a freshman and sophomore.
Ashley Ferreira will provide depth at catcher and first base, too.
Sophomore Alexandra Brown will start at second base, with another sophomore, Jordan Tiberi, backing her up.
On the left side of the infield, senior Jeriann Evans and junior Destinee Charette will play shortstop and third base, respectively.
“I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen from her glove,” Kennedy said of Jeriann Evans. “She made a great diving stop for us in a scrimmage the other day.”
Junior Karissa Coupe will also battle for innings at third base.
In the outfield, sophomore Megan Cooney will start in left field and lead off in the batting order for Pilgrim. Mackenzie Hough, a two-year starter at Vets, will patrol centerfield, while Emma Hlavacek will start in right field. Junior Hope Frye will see time in the outfield, as well.
Morin and Almon will also provide sparks in the batting order, as they’ll be allowed to hit for any position player in the field under Rhode Island Interscholastic League rules.
Moving to Division I will certainly be a challenge for the Pats, but Kennedy, who will be assisted on the bench by Hugh Cabana, is upbeat regarding his team’s chances of competing amid this state’s best teams.
“I’m hopeful and cautiously optimistic,” Kennedy said regarding this season. “I think we have pitching and defense, and I’m hopeful on our hitting. Division I is definitely a challenge. It’s a step up from last year in Division II. You see a strong pitcher every game in Division I. Hopefully we’ll be up for it.”
Pilgrim was scheduled to get its season started against Lincoln on Monday, but results were unavailable at press time.
The Pats will also host defending state champion North Kingstown at 4 p.m. today.