Softball Preview: Monarchs aiming for return to playoffs

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | McGann-Mercy pitcher Anna Crowley returns to lead the Monarchs this season.

It’ll be awfully lonely in the dugout every half-inning when the McGann-Mercy Monarchs take the field.

With a roster only 10 deep, the Monarchs will be relying on every player to play a role in getting Mercy back into the postseason this year after narrowly missing out last season.

The Monarchs may not have much depth, but they have plenty of experience with a core group of seniors.

It starts on the mound with senior Anna Crowley, who is entering her fourth year on the varsity. An all-division player last year, Crowley relies on locating her pitches to induce easy groundouts or pop-ups.

As a sophomore Crowley pitched the Monarchs past Pierson/Bridgehampton with a three-hitter in an outbracket playoff game, the first postseason victory for Mercy since 1991. The win sent the Monarchs into the best-of-three playoff against Port Jefferson.

They’ll hope to get back there this year, although it won’t easy. The Monarchs, due to a small bump in enrollment and a change in state classification numbers, will compete as a Class B school rather than Class C.

“That does change things for us just a little bit,” said Mercy coach Jacki Paton.

The Monarchs will still compete in League VIII, with the standard crossover games against League VII.

Crowley will be throwing to another senior behind the plate, Amanda Burriesci. She was all-league last year.

In the field the Monarchs have two seniors anchoring the defense up the middle. Brieanne Bieber will play shortstop and Karlin McIntyre will patrol center field. Bieber earned all-division honors last year and McIntyre was all-league.

As an eighth-grader last year, Micaela Zeboski was the league rookie of the year while playing second base. She’ll return on the infield this season.

Paton said Zeboski gained more confidence as the season progressed last year.

“She became a better batter,” Paton said. “She made good, solid contact and she did a nice job of putting herself in a position where she could get on base.”

The Monarchs feature two juniors in Marisa James and Shannon Willmott, who can each play in the infield or outfield.

Sophomores Kate Nolan and Jacqueline Zaweski will both play the infield. Freshman Claire Sullivan will add depth to the outfield.

Last year the Monarchs doubled their run total from the previous season.

“We are becoming much more of a powerful team,” Paton said. “With their experience from the past two years, I look to only improve upon that.”

The Monarchs open the regular season with a league game at home Wednesday against Center Moriches.

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