Softball: Former Gaelettes leading ECSU

Senior Sam Rossetti and junior Emily Komornik out of Shelton High will be key cogs this season when the Eastern Connecticut State University’s women’s softball teams looks to repeat as Little East Conference champions.

“Sam is our best hitter and will come up clutch for us,” said Warior head coach Diana Pepin. “She has been stinging the ball and playing a solid first base.”

Rossetti, who was an All-New England selection, batted .443 as a junior, with 37 RBIs and 18 run scored to help Eastern win its fifth straight LEC title.

At Shelton High, Rossetti was a varsity member and two-year starter for coach Joanne Desrochers.

As a junior, Rossetti received first-team all-area honors and all-conference recogngition. She was team MVP her junior and senior year and a team captain  her senior year.

Komornik, a junior, is a right-handed pitcher.

“Emily is fighting to be in the pitching rotation,” Pepin said. “She is a great drop-ball pitcher, who keeps batters off balance.

“We are hoping she will also contribute at the plate. She has done really well in the scrimmages and wants to be out there.”

Komornik posted a 3-3 record a year ago, with a 2.87 ERA and one save.

Komornik pitched and played first base as a four-year starter at Shelton. She won five games with a 1.60 ERA in 39 1/3 innings as a senior pitcher on 14-8 team.

As a senior, Komornik was an Academic All-State selection.

With a potential Little East Conference championship on the line, Pepin and the Warriors are ready to take on the season.

“Our defense is solid but our hitting needs to be more consistent,” said Pepin, the program’s all-time winningest coach (339-185-1 in 13 years).

“We have a number of power hitters to put in the lineup. Right now, we’re a very cohesive unit, so if they all accept their roles, they can do some great things.”

Starting position players will be junior All-New England Region shortstop Alyssa Hancock, Rossetti at first, Gina Georgetti out of Foran-Milford at second, junior third baseman Samantha Rentz, sophomore centerfielder Samantha Bardos, and rightfielder Shannon Martin.

Sophomore Tyler Keegan and Komornik are contending as the starting designated player. The starting leftfield and/or DH spot may go to sophomores Rebecca DeFeo or Kelsey Mosher.

The team had a 25-13 record in the 2014 season and its fifth straight regular-season LEC title with an 11-3 mark.

The team returns a strong nucleus of 14 letterwinners, but must compensate for several key losses, including first-team All-LEC outfielders Mattie Brett and Stephanie Johnson, and utility player Megan Godwin, who missed much of last year with injury after three standout seasons.

Despite the graduation losses of that trio, the top returners from last year have allowed Pepin to create a solid lineup for this season.

There are six pitchers this year, among them returning starters Erin Miller and Samantha Valentine.

As a junior, Miller was named LEC Pitcher-of-the-Year, and split time with Valentine, a freshman a year ago.

Sophomore Summer Cipriani and Komornik will add valuable depth once again. Martin is also an option.

Junior Taylor Smyth returns as the starting catcher after splitting time as a sophomore.

Sophomore two-sport athlete Danielle Robillard can fill several positions as either a starter or substitute. Additional players include sophomore Kristyn Ryan and freshmen Haeili Campbell and McKayla Poissant.

The captains were voted on by the team and are Miller, Hancock and Rentz.

“They are well respected and are helping the coaching staff out a lot by addressing issues before they happen,” Pepin noted

“Alyssa is vocal leader and a great teacher of the game. Sam is very mature, and Erin has worked really hard since her freshman year and really wants to take the team on her back and go places. They all complement each other really well.”

Keene State College, Eastern and Western Connecticut all received first-place votes in the Little East coaches’ pre-season poll and finished within three points of each other.

Despite finishing fifth a year ago in the regular season, Keene was voted first (coaches cannot vote for their own team) after winning the LEC tournament title a year ago and returning tournament junior pitcher Mariah Crisp, the LEC tournament MVP.

Pepin introduced two new coaches this season: Kate Spring and Tom Madera.

“Kate believes in my philosophy and what we’re teaching,” says Pepin of Spring, a former three-year player for ECSU. Spring works with the outfielders and the hitters and will be the first base coach this season.

Madera works primarily with the infielders. “He loves the game and really wanted to be involved this year.” said Pepin.

In 2015, the Warriors look to regain the form that provided them with three consecutive LEC tournament championships between 2010 and 2012, with this year’s three seniors contributing to that most recent championship as freshmen in 2012.

The ultimate goal this year is to win the conference tournament and move on to the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in the last eight seasons under Pepin.

Pepin said. “What’s important right now is being in the moment and playing each game as it comes. If we pay attention to details, then the winning will take care of itself.”

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