By Adam Zaki
Published: March 22nd, 2017
As winter continues to wear its welcome in the New York area, the Brooklyn College softball team’s season has been halted by Mother Nature’s frosty temper. The Bulldogs’ first three contests of the season have been postponed until further notice, as the team will look to bounce back from a troubling 5-23 season just a year ago.
The Bulldogs have stayed competitive throughout the first half of head coach Antoinette Brown’s reign at the helm, as the club earned 20 wins in 2015. Brooklyn College’s 2016 campaign mimicked Brown’s freshman year as a member of the Bulldogs however, when Brooklyn College finished with a record of 6-21 for the 2009 season.
The Bulldogs were outmatched numerous times last season, losing to opponents by extremely large margins. With 14 of their 23 losses last season coming with double-digit differences, BC’s failure to compete destroyed team confidence and led to a disastrous season for the Bulldogs.
Last year’s losses included doubleheaders where the Bulldogs failed to muster any type of energy. Last season’s biggest doubleheader defeats included a combined 31-1 loss on March 17 to New Jersey City University, a combined 43-0 loss to College of Staten Island in games played on April 10, and a 27-2 combined walloping from Manhattanville College on April 19.
The Bulldogs’ lone doubleheader sweep in 2016 occurred against College of New Rochelle, when they defeated the Blue Angels 8-0 and 11-3 in back-to-back action on April 8.
Including much needed improvement all around, the Bulldogs must focus on winning away games. After posting an 0-9 record on the road last year, the team will have to find ways to succeed away from Brooklyn College in order to jumpstart the program back to its old ways.
The Flatbush Faithful can remember the club’s success of the previous years. In the 2014 season, the Bulldogs won 25 games, including a conference-dominating 10-2 City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) record, which helped them earn a trip to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Metro Championships.
Losing star catcher Samantha Rodriguez to graduation last season, the Bulldogs will now have to find new ways to win without their best player of the last four years. Leading the team with a .424 batting average and four home runs in her final year, Rodriguez was the biggest offensive contributor and game manager behind the plate, and her departure will allow opportunities for younger Bulldogs to step up into bigger roles.
With a roster of 13 underclassmen, including six freshmen, fresh bodies and a new philosophy may be able to produce dividends for the Bulldogs. Accompanied by junior first baseman Breanna Maresca and senior outfielder Vannisa Pascal-Nelson, the Bulldogs will look to learn and compete simultaneously, a deed that very well may halt success for the club for a second consecutive year.
With 87 percent of the roster consisting of underclassmen, leadership from upperclassmen and the coaching staff together will have a vital impact on the win column in 2017. With the arrival of assistant coach Tiffany Irrera in July, the staff must be able to maximize production out of the team’s young roster in order to contend down the stretch of the season. All the fresh faces may also allow the Bulldogs to create a new identity in 2017.
If the young players can adjust to a quicker pace of play in their new roles, the Bulldogs are limitless in their potential this season. But if they struggle and fail to fulfill much needed roles on the roster, the Bulldogs may be in for another woe-filled season in 2017.