Youth movement for Molloy softball

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Coming off its third consecutive 30-win season, Molloy College softball has been stocked with an influx of freshman being asked to contribute right away for coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke.

“It’s been a learning experience so far,” Lyke said of the Lady Lions’ 8-13 start, which included extended trips to Florida in February and March totaling 15 games. “We lost eight seniors who contributed as freshmen four years ago and had great success during their careers, so we’ve come full circle,” she added. “Now we have seven freshmen and most are starting in key positions.”

The East Coast Conference schedule gets underway this Saturday when Molloy hosts Mercy College in a doubleheader at the Rockville Centre Sports Complex beginning at noon. Cassidy-Lyke expects LIU-Post to present the biggest challenge in a perennial deep league. “Our conference is always going to be tough,” she said. “I think we’ll be prepared. I expect us to be competitive and right in the mix.”

Moving forward, Cassidy-Lyke plans to employ senior Jenna Turato, a product of Carey High School, and sophomore Courtney Greene, from East Islip, as starting pitchers with sophomore Tonianne Larson (Long Beach) in relief. Freshman Amanda King has brought excitement to the circle and the shortstop position and could get additional work in the pitching department.

Turato (nine) and Greene combined to start 17 of the first 21 games. Turato has 50 strikeouts in 52 innings, while Greene tossed four complete games. Larson has been strong in relief with a 1.89 ERA over 12 appearances. “Jenna is leading the group as a senior,” Cassidy-Lyke said of Turato, who last season won 18 games and led the ECC in innings pitched with 200-plus.

Freshman Lauren Ramos has big shoes to fill behind the plate after the departure of four-year starting catcher Alexandra Russo, who logged more than 200 games during her career. Ramos is “getting better every day,” Cassidy-Lyke said, and had nine RBIs through 21 games.

The infield behind the circle features a pair of seniors and a couple of freshmen. Senior Tara Byrnes (first base) is making the most of her opportunity with an uptick in at-bats, going 13-for-39 so far for a .333 average to rank second on the team as April approaches. She’s had 3-for-3 games against LeMoyne, Assumption and Adelphi.

At second base, senior Kaitlyn Snyder (two homers) is a defensive standout and also the team’s No. 2 batter. It’s her fourth year in the starting lineup. King has caught the coach’s eye with her performance at shortstop and as a pitcher, and also knocked in 10 runs through the first 21 games to lead the Lady Lions. At third base, freshman Angelique Serrano is doing some nifty glove work.

The lone returnee to the outfield, sophomore Sara Glaser, has moved to center after spending last season in right. One spot is being handled by committee, with Greene and freshman Marissa Nicoletti (Carey) getting the majority of nods, whilst freshman Alex Burns (Baldwin High School) is off to a big start while playing in left and right. Burns paces the team in hits (21), runs (10), total bases (24) and average (.344) from the leadoff spot.

“I’m not disappointed with the record because I see so much energy and enthusiasm and potential,” Cassidy-Lyke said.