Scituate girls finding new direction

Scituate girls finding new direction

Senior captains Nicole Venturini, left, and Jacqueline Youngdahl have been handed additional responsibilities as they lead the Scituate High School softball team into the 2014 campaign. (Valley Breeze & Observer photo by Kayla Panu)

SCITUATE - After graduating just two seniors last year, the Scituate High School softball team has a good core returning and they are looking at and approaching things differently this season in Division II-North.

Last year the Lady Spartans won some, but could never get the right streak going to reach the playoffs.

"We didn't underachieve but we didn't play up to our potential for enough games to be in contention," head coach Norman Ramos said.

This year Ramos and his assistant coach Kevin Venturini are changing things around trying something different to finally reach the playoffs. They have selected two captains this year who will have a bigger role than in previous year. Senior Nicole Venturini is a captain and will be responsible for the infielders as an infielder herself at shortstop.

The other captain, also a senior, is Jacqueline Youngdahl the starting center fielder. She will be responsible for the outfielders. Ramos said that they are letting the captains have more input in the drills and practices now and they will be accountable for what happens.

"We discovered we had to change our philosophy," Ramos said. "We have to accept the fact that the level of play needs to be a realistic bar opposed to what we have expected or envisioned. We changed our approach to individual expectations and increased expectations team wise."

So far Ramos has a pretty good idea of who will fill positions. First base is still open but returning in the infield is Jacquelyn St. Pierre at third, Venturini at short, Casey Lomastro at second and Cristina Vandall behind the plate.

"Defensively we are more athletic than last year," Ramos said.

Even though they have only been able to practice in the gym because of inclement weather, Ramos is expecting the mental mistakes to decline from last year.

Offensively, the lineup may be a little different. They have room to play with spots five through eight as Ramos said he has a more athletic team including freshmen and returning players.

"One glaring difference is our hitting has looked much better than last year," Ramos said.

The big thing like many other teams in Rhode Island is the Spartans have not been able to get outside. Ramos said that will effect his pitchers the most as they will not have a feel for the mound and pushing off. He also has a young pitching staff. Jessica Santanelli returns as a sophomore. As a freshman she saw a lot of time on the mound.

"Jess has worked hard and now has a year under her belt," Ramos said. "She understands the game and is driven and passionate about the game."

The other two pitchers are freshmen up from middle school. Ramos said that they will have to acclimate themselves to a different distance. But one of the goals this year is to drastically decrease runs allowed.

"Overall the expectations that Kevin and I have is to finally reach the playoffs," Ramos said. "It's been our goal the past couple of years and we are more driven than ever. I think we have the team to achieve it."

They are hoping their pitching can be at a high enough level to keep them competitive against all the teams in their division.

"I like where we are as a team," Ramos said.

The Spartans were scheduled to open their season, weather permitting, on Wednesday, April 2 at home against Johnston. Ramos said that they are particularly excited to see Johnston as Johnston took both match ups last year and they are looking to get back at them.

The other big game will be against North Smithfield as the Lady Northmen return their star pitcher.