GLASSBORO, NJ – The Rowan University softball team has high expectations for the 2020 season. The Profs want to continue their past success and play for the conference championship and advance to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
Last year, the softball team finished 33-15 overall and was the second seed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship Tournament. Rowan received an at-large bid to the national tournament, which was its 27thtrip to the postseason. The Profs won the NCAA Cambridge Regional. In two of the last four years, Rowan captured the Regional and Super Regional titles and advanced to the national tournament.
In the NJAC Preseason Coaches Poll, the softball team is ranked second with two first place votes. The Profs are also 13thin the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top-25 Poll.
“It has been nice to get outside and we are getting better every day,” stated head coach Kim Wilson who is in her 24thseason. “It is good to see the dirt before we actually play some games, unlike the last couple years and that has been positive. I think we are going to gain some game experience in several positions because we had the left side of our infield graduate.”
Rowan looks to its senior pitchers Lauren Shannon (Washington Twp.) and Jesse DeDomenico to lead the way. Last year, Shannon compiled an 11-6 record and a 1.53 earned run average (ERA). She totaled 130 strikeouts and a .163 opponents’ batting average. In the conference, the right-hander was ranked first in opposing batting average, second in strikeouts and third in ERA. Shannon was named to the NJAC All-Conference and NCAA East All-Region first teams.
“With our depth at the pitching position, I think we should be able to compete throughout the entire year,” continued Wilson. “Jess and Lauren are two kids that came in together as freshmen and have done a great job working together. They complement each other because they have different strengths as a pitcher. We look for them to have a breakout senior year. I think they can really lead this team to good places.”
DeDomenico had a 19-8 record with a 2.23 ERA. She compiled 168 strikeouts and had a .168 opposing batting average. DeDomenico was the NJAC leader in strikeouts and wins and she was second in opposing batting average. The righty was a member of the All-Conference and All-Region second teams. She will also see time in the outfield. Last year, DeDomenico contributed with a .294 batting average, 35 runs and 25 RBIs. Her 14 doubles was tied for fifth in the conference. She was also tied for sixth in walks (18) and eighth in runs scored.
Rowan’s pitching staff also includes veteran Emily August. Last year, she had seven appearances, a 1-0 record and a 1.68 ERA. “I am hoping this is Emily’s year,” Wilson said. “She will have the opportunity to see more innings. Emily has worked hard in the off season and I expect big things from her.”
Transfer Cali Kraemer (Paul VI) is behind the plate. She joins the team after one year at the University of Rhode Island. “Cali is going to be the starting catcher,” Wilson said. “We look for her to grow as a catcher. She is catching three very different pitchers and will have to make adjustments when each pitcher comes in. We are looking for her to have a big impact on us offensively and defensively.”
The Profs’ left side of the infield was hit hard due to graduation. They lost starters Carly Anderson at shortstop and Cassandra Gerard at third base. Alexa Saccomanno will take over at short and Korie Hague (Vineland) is the starter at third. Last season, Saccomanno saw some time on the mound and at the plate. Hague was a pinch hitter in her first campaign.
“Alexa had a year to work with Carly (Anderson) at short and was definitely mentored,” Wilson stated. “She learned a lot from Carly. Alexa is not coming in with much game experience but she will be steady at short for us. Korie is taking over at third after she caught some games for us last year. She has done a great job of training at the position. Korie has a catcher’s mentality and she is going to scoop up anything she can get.”
On the right side, Mackenzie Short returns at first base for her senior season and Sonia Sharma is back at second. Short batted .217 last year. Sharma chipped in with 19 runs and 11 RBIs while hitting .204.
“Mackenzie has been solid at first base for three years now,” commented Wilson. “We look for her to really come into her own at the plate this year. Sonia is another one that has been solid on defense for us. She has been working really hard on her hitting. Sonia makes things happen with her speed at the plate. We look forward to her coming through for us.”
Transfer Deanna Pineiro (Audubon) will see time at second and third. She played two seasons at La Salle University. “Deanna has some experience coming in and we look for her to be a steady force,” said Wilson. “She really looks good at the plate and I am excited to see her play.”
Morgan Zane (Schalick) is the starter in left field. She was second on the team with a .390 batting average and first with 39 RBIs. She compiled 28 runs, 15 doubles and six home runs. In the conference, she was tied for second in total bases (95), tied third in home runs, fifth in slugging percentage (.617) and sixth in hits (60) and RBIs (39). Zane was selected the NJAC Rookie of the Year and to the All-Conference first team. She was also a member of the NFCA East All-Region second team. Rebecca Lombardo has earned the starting spot in center field. She replaces graduated Kristina Mueller. Lombardo started 28 of 43 games last year and batted .211.
“Morgan has really come along as an outfielder,” remarked Wilson. “We look for her to be in left field for us again and to continue with her offensive prowess that she had last year. Rebecca is taking over at center. She has experience for two years in the outfield and at the plate. It is her time to shine.”
DeDomenico will play in right field along with veteran Kelly Duffy and rookies Sam Einstein and Jess Handzo. The Profs’ roster also includes returnee Steph Kantanas and newcomer Erin O’Grady. Kantanas is the backup at first base and will pinch hit. O’Grady will be the team’s first runner off the bench and challenge for playing time in the outfield.
Duffy is learning the outfield after time last season as the designated player. She hit .319 and drove in 31 runs. Duffy was selected to the NJAC All-Conference and NFCA East All-Region first teams.
“We are playing a really strong North Carolina schedule,” Wilson stated. “The southern teams will have an advantage on us. They have been playing games but we have been outside and that is a big difference for us this year.”
“Our Florida schedule is one of the toughest schedules that I have seen,” added Wilson. “You never know from year to year if a team gets a good pitcher, some teams could better and others not as strong. The College of New Jersey is the team to beat, they return a good squad. They will have a target on their back all season and we look to be the one to knock them off.”
Rowan starts the season at the Grand Slam Classic in Cary, NC on Saturday, Feb. 29 and Sunday, March 1. The Profs play Piedmont College and McDaniel College on Saturday. They meet Christopher Newport and North Carolina Wesleyan College. The softball team’s home opener is scheduled against New Paltz on Saturday, March 7.
Rowan’s spring trip to Florida is set for Friday, March 13 through Friday, March 20. The spring break schedule includes 12 games. The Profs host Kean University on Saturday, March 28 in the first conference double header of the season.