HOWELL – A new chapter for the Howell High School softball program has started in 2022 as Katelyn Kuzma has taken over the head coaching duties of the Rebels. Kuzma succeeds Tricia Savino in the position.
The Rebels lost their first two games, but bounced back with a pair of victories to get to 2-2. Howell will play Monroe Township High School on April 16.
Kuzma said she knew her team was capable of rebounding from its slow start.
“Each game we are getting better in certain aspects,” the coach said. “If we keep building upon what we are doing, then we will be able to win.”
On April 1, Howell lost its season opener to Middletown North, 2-0. In their home opener against Marlboro on April 8, the Rebels fell to the Mustangs, 13-1.
The Rebels won their first game on April 11 as they racked up 18 hits in a 22-0 victory over Long Branch. On April 12, Howell defeated Manalapan, 8-2.
Outstanding starting pitching played a big role in those two victories.
Against Long Branch, freshman Madisyn Zito recorded her first career no-hitter and struck out 12 hitters.
Against Manalapan, senior Alexa Colon went the distance and struck out 14 Braves. Kuzma said Colon will play a key role in the team’s success this season.
Doing damage at the plate in Howell’s first two victories were senior Haley Abatemarco and freshmen Keira Murphy and Emma DePeppo.
Abatemarco went 4-4 against Manlapan and drove in five runs.
Murphy had two hits and drove in two runs against Manalapan. She delivered four hits and scored five runs in Howell’s victory over Long Branch.
Through four games, Murphy has done her part while hitting third. She led the team with eight hits, and had four RBIs and five runs scored.
DePeppo has driven in five runs with four hits, while scoring six runs.
Sophomores Francesca Cinelli, Meah Nagy and Caitlyn Zito have all contributed during the early going.
Cinelli belted a home run and a triple against Long Branch and led the Rebels with four RBIs in the win over the Green Wave.
Nagy has collected five hits and scored four runs in the early going, while Zito has anchored the defense in centerfield.
“We have a very young group with a couple of seniors who will lead us through,” Kuzma said. “Moving forward as we start playing more games with each other as teammates, I think we can really gel and be really good.”
After their non-conference contest against Monroe Township, the Rebels will get back into Shore Conference A North Division play against Freehold Township on April 18.
There have been some challenges and some high points early in the season, but the coach said the players are having fun competing as a team.
“So far it has been a fun, family-type atmosphere. It’s fun to see the girls in school all day and then we can come out and try to have a good time and win. We are serious, but at the same time we are loose and having fun,” Kuzma said.