Talented and veteran Lady Crusaders will be challenged


GROTON – The Groton-Dunstable softball team will swim in the deep waters of MidWach B this season, but the Lady Crusaders will be bringing plenty of experience with them. Fifth-year coach Derek Asadoorian has a lot of familiar faces on the roster, and is looking to improve last season’s 8-12 record, despite a tough schedule.

“We have very good leaders on this team, not just from the seniors, but also from the younger kids who have shown leadership qualities,” said Asadoorian. “This is a hard working group, and with them a little guidance goes a long way. I like the experience we have on hand, and we have improved athleticism. The team is coming together well.”

A trio of senior captains will lead the Lady Crusaders into battle this season – catcher Erin O’Donnell, shortstop Christiana Rogers, and second baseman Stephanie Carroll.

“Erin is starting for the fourth season and gives us strength at an important position,” said Asadoorian. “She is steady, dependable and fundamentally sound, and gives us another coach on the field. Erin has great speed and is a line drive hitter with power, and she’ll probably hit second.

“Christiana is also starting for the fourth season and she orchestrates the communication between the infield and the outfield,” said Asadoorian. “She has great range and has become a more consistent defensive player. She is very fast and will hit out of the leadoff slot.

“Stephanie is another four year starter, who shows toughness and the ability to battle through adversity,” said Asadoorian. “Defensively, she is steady with good range, and offensively she is a contact hitter and a good bunter. She is emerging as a strong leader.”

Another pivotal senior this year will be pitcher Danielle Bryant, who will be on the mound full-time for the second season.

“Danielle is a control pitcher who can hit spots and she gained a lot of experience last season,” said Asadoorian. “I’m hoping she builds off that experience. Offensively, she makes solid contact and is a good bunter.”

Rounding out the starting infield will be junior Kristen Koed at first base and junior Tracey Atwood at third.

“Kristen is starting for the third season and she is our strongest defensive player fundamentally,” said Asadoorian. “She is a big target at first base and was our leading hitter last year. She is a smart hitter with power and will bat cleanup.

“Tracey is a solid defensive third baseman and has the strongest arm on the team,” said Asadoorian. “She is versatile and can also play the outfield and I am looking for more offense from her this season.”

Two of the starting outfield slots are set with junior Jackie Breen in center, and sophomore Julie Riggert in either left or right.

“Jackie is a third year starter who is a coach’s player because she listens and learns,” said Asadoorian. “She played left field last season but I am looking for her to be the quarterback of the outfield this season. She is athletic and has outstanding range and speed. She is a contact hitter with some power and will hit third.

“Julie came off the bench last season but has improved in all aspects of her game this season,” said Asadoorian. “She has a great attitude, is committed and is willing to learn. She has speed and range and can play a number of different positions.”

Three players are competing for the final starting berth in the outfield – junior Chandra Dewar, sophomore Kristin Cunningham and sophomore Kate Johnson.

“Chandra came off the bench last year and is a good hitter who understands the responsibilites of an outfielder,” said Asadoorian. “Kristin is up from the junior varsity team and is one of the hardest workers on the team. She hustles, works hard and will improve quickly. Kate came off the bench last season and did some designated hitting. She is a good contact hitter with some power and has good speed, and she is working hard to learn to play the outfield.”

A pair of freshmen who will be varsity swing players this season are Taylor Guarino and Madison McEvoy.

“Taylor is a pitcher-third baseman-first baseman, who we are looking to develop at third,” said Asadoorian. “Madison is a pitcher-second baseman who has good control and she could pitch some varsity games. Both girls will gain experience by pitching for the junior varsity team, and both have a big upside.”

What concerns Asadoorian entering the season?

“We have a tough schedule including the move to MidWach B,” he said. “We also need to stay healthy. The key to the season will be how we handle adversity and how we handle playing a tough team day after day. The challenge is in place and we are being asked to step up. Our success will be measured on how we accepted the challenge, and I’m excited to see how well the kids respond.”