(Photo by Lee Ferris, Mount Saint Mary College)

by Joseph Santangelo

NEWBURGH—The Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) Softball team is looking to win the Skyline conference championship this season after losing the title by way of a tiebreaker a year ago.

The knights finished last season with an overall record of 20-14, the best yet since the 2011 season. They opened up some eyes in the conference, by finishing with a 10-4 record.

This year’s Lady Knights look to have another successful season under second year head coach, Jessica Mushel. She feels her team has some real potential this year.

“I am feeling confident heading into the remainder our season,” Mushel said. “We finished 4-6 in Florida and played strong teams while there, which is only helping us to refine and improve aspects of our game.”

The Knights came into this season ranked fourth in the Skyline Conference preseason poll. The Knights look at the ranking as a motivator as they strive to move up into the number one spot.

“This team is very talented as a collective whole,” Mushel said. “In addition, we have embraced being selected fourth in the Skyline Softball Preseason poll and we are using that as a motivating and driving factor as we enter into conference play.”

Mushel isn’t the only one motivated by the rankings in the preseason poll. Danielle Soto, senior third baseman, agrees with her coach on her team’s ability.

“I feel really confident with my team heading into the season”, Soto said. “We have a young, but talented squad this year and I feel we can make noise and accomplish big things.”

The knights are not just looking to move up on the rankings list, they are looking forward to making a playoff run this year.

“I am fully confident that this team will make it to playoffs,” said Mushel. “This team is very talented as a collective whole.”

Although the knights have lost one of its biggest bats from last year, the team is still confident it can get the job done with the talent they have.

Mushel will have to fill the gap in the lineup left by Ashley Peel, who graduated last semester. Peel was the knight’s best hitter.

Mushel, however, thinks the talent of her veterans can get the job done.

“As mentioned before this team is a strong, skilled and talented group and everyone will contribute to this team’s successes,” Said Mushel. “However, Senior Captains Stephanie Karcher and Danielle Soto bring strong bats to our lineup, batting respectively third and fourth.”

The Knights also will need to get the job done on defense. With one of its top pitchers on the road to recovery, the Knights will look to freshman pitcher Cindy Connoly to get the job done.

During the Knight’s first 10 games in Florida, Connoly showed immediate impact, going 2-3, with an ERA of 1.19. She also recorded 17 strikeouts in one game against Clark College.

The Knights feel they have a good team that will be competing for a title at the end of the season.

“The Mount Saint Mary College Softball team, athletes and coaches included, are constantly working to improve and work as a whole,” Mushel said. “If all parts continue to work together, I believe we will have a very successful 2015 season.”

The Knights’ next home game is scheduled for March 25 against Yeshiva University.