Softball says goodbye to seniors and looks toward future

The St. John’s softball regular season came to a close last week, as the Cadets lost 7-2 against Elizabeth Seton in their Senior Day game on Thursday, and fell in the season finale Sunday against Good Counsel 25-5.

The team had a rough season, finishing 4-12. Head Coach Diane Romo-Thomas chalked this up to disparities in experience within the team. “We have a lot of inexperienced players on the team that are still learning the game, and some that understand the game but haven’t caught up to the speed of the game in the WCAC – it’s a very good conference, with a lot of good pitching,” Romo-Thomas said.

Despite the losses, it was all smiles from the Cadets on Thursday as they played on the Upper Field, the only time they played on campus all season. During the pregame ceremony, St. John’s President Mancabelli and Principal Themistos each threw out the first pitch, and Haile Proctor ’19 announced that she would be attending the University of Pittsburgh, surprising even her parents.

Senior teammate Raye Thomas, the only four-year varsity player on the team, will be playing for Howard University next year. She was described as “my ace in the mound and in the batter’s box” by her coach and recorded over 150 strikeouts over the course of this season. Behind the backstop is Marakah Dennis, another senior who assumed the role of catcher this year.

“Trying to catch Raye is hard,” Romo-Thomas said of Dennis, “but Marakah has done a very good job handling that position, and hitting the ball well, too.”

Thomas took the game Thursday as a chance to reflect on the past, present, and future of the team. “Freshman year was kind of scary, I didn’t know anyone, but this team is really nice to each other and more like a family. I think it’s heading in a great direction; we have a lot of recruits coming in, and these girls are getting better. I think it’s gonna get a lot stronger as we continue,” Thomas said.

The 2019 season was an odd year for the program, in between the loss of a strong senior class from 2018 and incoming freshman recruits meant to bolster the lineup.

“It was a big hit losing a lot of seniors last year, but seeing all these girls who are stepping onto the field for the first time really develop this season has been a great change,” Proctor said. “They’ll definitely continue to improve…the seniors this year are a key part of the team, but there are some good freshmen coming in and they’ll really help the team develop next year.”

Romo-Thomas had the opportunity this year to recruit players for the upcoming season. “Some of the freshmen coming in are very good. I’ve got a pitcher transfer coming in; the combination of the pitching and the good younger players means we’ll have a good chance to make a run at the WCAC title,” she said.

One product of this in-between year is that more juniors and underclassmen have gotten experience playing at the varsity level. Anna Ford ’20 said, “People that came in not having that much experience have really developed, and I’ve definitely seen myself develop in the time that I’ve been here.”

Ford also described what she’d miss from the senior class. “Definitely their energy and how we act before games. They always try to hype us up, they’re always making us laugh,” Ford said.

Romo-Thomas knows that she’ll need the current juniors like Ford next year. “We have so many underclassmen that are going to be seniors next year, and they’re going to have to carry the team. We have a good core of freshmen coming in, but still, having that leadership next year and having them learn the game is big.”

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