By Matthew Rocco
The Red Bank Regional High School softball team is sporting a new look this season, but the Lady Buccaneers believe they will make some noise in a competitive division.
The Lady Buccaneers are coming off a season in which they finished 15-11 behind star pitcher Katie Serkus. With Serkus gone and even more shoes to fill in the lineup, Red Bank Regional is looking for its returning starters and a group of newcomers to step up. It’s the same philosophy that guided the Lady Buccaneers to three Monmouth County Tournament titles in the last five seasons.
“We have a reputation that we’re trying to follow,” head coach Alyssa Guderian said. “We lost a lot of veterans. Our girls have big shoes to fill, but the team is inspired by what they accomplished.”
Red Bank Regional is looking to a first-year pitcher in junior Carly Keller, who was Serkus’ battery mate last season. As a converted catcher, Keller is further along than most first-year pitchers. Her familiarity with opposing hitters will be an asset this season. Guderian said Keller will need to be sharp locating her pitches because Red Bank Regional’s Shore Conference B North Division rivals, including Red Bank Catholic High School and Matawan Regional High School, will have formidable lineups.
“We have a really tough division. It’s going to be a lot about her location and how to pitch each batter,” Guderian said. “She’s a veteran player. I have a lot of confidence in her, and she’ll be a big part of our lineup, too.”
Veterans fill the top of Red Bank Regional’s lineup. Senior Niki Lauro will handle center field in her fourth year on the varsity team. Left fielder Kristen Dinglestedt, a sophomore, started last season as a freshman. Junior Lauren Bevacqua is back at shortstop. Senior Lauren Terpak is the third baseman.
With some teammates playing varsity softball for the first time, Red Bank Regional’s returning starters are providing valuable leadership.
“They have confidence on the field and great leadership skills. Letting the girls know about opposing pitchers, that’s going to be key. I need a lot of communication on my team. A lot of girls aren’t familiar with the pitchers in our division,” said Guderian, who is making her debut as Red Bank Regional’s head coach.
Among the newcomers are seniors Carly Lewandowski (infield), Katie Lewandowski (catcher) and Hayley Rienzo (outfield); junior Hannah Proodian (utility); sophomores Kelly Farley (infield) and Roshni Tyler (infield); and freshman Aislinn Butler (catcher).
The young Lady Buccaneers got some experience on the field together last summer. They participated in a Wall High School softball league along with other Shore Conference programs, laying the groundwork for the 2016 campaign.
Red Bank played Wall in the season opener April 4. The Lady Buccaneers will remain at home for their next two games. They will face Long Branch High School April 6 and Red Bank Catholic April 8, with first pitch at 4 p.m. for both matchups.