Marlboro High School’s softball team may be experiencing “growing pains” but its competitiveness is embraced by the team’s coach.
“We’re a young team,” Marlboro coach Nick Scalzo said. “We have a lot of first-year varsity players. For a young team, we compete with anybody. I honestly think that our growing pains are helping us. We have a lot of big wins. A lot of tough losses. That’s going to help us come the postseason. Once we start hitting the ball more consistently, we’re going to be a dangerous team come the playoffs.”
Jessica Rantinella, a junior center fielder, and Jody Thomas, a junior third baseman, predicted that Marlboro will be a force as the spring progresses.
“I think that if we make more of our routine plays, and if we hit when everyone’s hitting, and not just sporadically, we’ll really come together and get our name out there,” Rantinella said. “That’s what we need to do the most. Get more consistent hits and be more consistent with our play making.”
“It starts with our attitude and our effort,” Thomas said. “We know that we always have to improve upon it. That’s the biggest thing. I think it’ll definitely come through in the postseason.”
Marlboro was defeated on its home field, 10-3, to Howell High School on April 24. But the setback to an undefeated Howell team was a lesson well learned by the Mustangs.
“The good things that I saw today were that defensively, after we made mistakes, we came back and made the next play,” Scalzo said. “To me, that shows us that we’re growing and we’re learning. The big thing for our program is to not give up, because we’ve been in every game. So with that, I’m very proud of their accomplishments today.”
Other Marlboro players chimed in on how the Mustangs played against Howell.
“The ball might not have rolled our way,” junior second baseman Madison Rallis said. “But during the game, we stayed with it and kept fighting. If we continue to do that, we’ll get the next one.”
“On the mound I feel like I’m able to pick up my players around me when we make a mistake,” senior pitcher/shortstop Brianna Lenza said. “It really helps me on the mound. I love that we keep fighting.”
Marlboro, which won the Shore Conference’s A-North Division litle in 2017, is gearing up for the post-season.
“We want to win as many games as possible,” Scalzo said. “As a program, that’s always been what we try to do. Win, lose, or draw, for us, we always want to put out a good product. These girls do that. They play hard. They play the game the right way. We don’t give up. What I’ve seen from them, and what I hope I continue to see is that consistency start to come into play, and them knowing that they can compete with anybody. If they do that, I think it can lead us to where ever we wind up this season.”
The Mustang players are confident, too.
“I think that we should stay more as a team,” Rallis said. “If we all talk during the game, and keep our heads up, we’ll be okay. I’m hoping that the seniors will continue to do a great job of leading us. Keep stepping up and being the leaders that we need.”
“As a senior, I have a lot of expectations,” Lenza said. “I want to go out with a bang this year.”
“I know that we’re going to come back strong,” Thomas said. “We just have to keep learning and getting better and we’ll be fine.”
“I think every loss helps us grow,” Rantinella said. “It brings us closer as a team, and we become a family.”
Scalzo is pleased with the attitude of his players.
“It’s been an overall team effort,” Scalzo said. “Each game, we move a lot of people around. [Junior] Alexandra Cavallaro is our other pitcher. Her and Brianna together have been doing their jobs well all year. Defensively, we move people around. They haven’t complained, and they’ve adjusted to whatever position we put them at.”
The coach explained his rotation.
“In the box, [junior] Kayleigh Ferraro plays left field and bats third for us. She’s had a lot of big hits for us this year. Behind her, Morgan Dwyer, our senior catcher, has done a solid job defensively, and always keeps us in the game. Isabella O’Hare is another senior that has moved around a lot. From short to right, she’s done it all. She’s starting to come around in the box as well, so, she’s been contributing all over. [Junior] Brooke Fopeano plays solid defense for us. And, Jayna Kramsky is only a sophomore for us who’s stepped into a role. She has some growing pains so far, but you see her potential. She’s going to be really good. She’s had a lot of two-out hits for us already this year. So, it’s really been a team effort out here.”
Marlboro will continue its growth when it plays at home against Neptune High School on May 4. The game is slated to start at 4 p.m.