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by Christopher Tremblay

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Despite a poor showing last spring where Ashland posted a 2-18 record first year softball coach Jackie Long is looking to have her Clockers move up the ladder. Ashland will be returning on two senior and seven juniors from last year’s squad leaving the team relatively young on the diamond this year, but again the coach is rather optimistic.

“Defensively this team has been very competitive and we’re looking to keep moving in the right direction while bringing the program up,” Long said. “I want to raise the bar this year and I am setting some high expectations so I’m hoping the seniors lead the way.”

Helping the new coach reach those lofty expectations will be the Clockers quad captains; seniors Hannah Connors (third base) and Lauren Reardon (catcher) as well as juniors Rose Shannon (second) and Kristen Esposito (third). While Connors is very strong defensive fixture at the hot corner, Reardon will be looked upon to provide the offensive spark.

Reardon was one of Ashland’s leading hitters last spring and possess a very lively bat and as a catcher she has now had a repertoire with sophomore pitcher Carly Kadlik. Now in her second season as the team’s number one pitcher Kadlik is now more comfortable with Reardon calling the game.

In addition to starting Kadlik, Long is hoping to get junior varsity pitcher Kasey Thorenson some action as the team’s other hurler. Both pitchers have similar pitches at their disposal, but at this point of the season Kadlik is more confident in the circle.

Not only will she be the calling the game behind the plate, Reardon will be batting cleanup in Long’s lineup hoping to chase runners home for the Clockers. Although still early Thorenson has already impressed the coach with her bat. Others expected to help the squad score runs will be Shannon, Esposito and Kaitlyn Murray.

“Last year we struck out a lot at the plate, but I’m looking to have the girls put the ball in play much more and make the defense work for the out,” Long said. “I’m hoping the girls are much smarter at the plate this year.”

Playing in the very competitive Tri-Valley League, Long knows no game is going to be easy. With a majority of the TVL teams returning a good number of players the Clockers are going to have to be ready to play each and every game.

One other returner from last year’s team is first baseman Katie Spielberger. Other athletes to see some action on the diamond this spring are Vanessa Cesaro (catcher), Libby Farrell, a switch-hitting shortstop who has recently developed a slap hit; Taylor Mazurek (utility infielder and outfielder), Makenna Klay (outfield), freshmen Maeze Flynn and Caitlin Keaveny and finally Emma Pignone. Assisting Coach Long will be Katrina Capobianco, who played on Ashland’s State Championship team.

Despite having a plethora of new players making the squad, Long is still very confident that her team can make the state tournament.

“We definitely want to make the state tournament, it’s not out of the possibility,” the coach said. “We are going to leave last season behind us and focus on this year.”

In addition to striving to make the tournament Ashland will be looking to improve each and every game while building on their success and minimizing their mistakes.

“We want to focus on improving our mental toughness and eliminating mental errors from game to game,” Long said. “I want players to hold each other accountable for each play, but overall our main goal is to not only enjoy the game, but play it for the love of the game.”

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