Turnover has been the operative word for the Ridgefield High softball team since the end of the 2012 season. New faces will play prominent roles this spring, not only on the field but also on the bench.
“There’s a lot of change,” said first-year head coach Kim Bentson, a newcomer herself. “But there are also several strong returning players for us to build around.”
Ridgefield will try to avoid picking up where it left off last year. The Tigers dropped their final five regular-season games and then fell to Danbury, 1-0, in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament, finishing with a 10-11 record.
Among the primary graduation losses were pitchers Emily Spicci and Amelia Romero, infielders Madison Damron and Erin Bamback, and outfielders Katherine Dinisi and Morgan Nadel.
But Ridgefield does return several proven performers in junior catcher Amanda Scammon, senior third baseman Kathryn Eckhoff, and senior centerfielder Shannon Taddonio. Another primary contributor last season, senior Dana Cohen, moves from first base to the pitching mound to replace Spicci and Romero.
“She’s our number one starter,” said Bentson about Cohen. “We’re hoping she has a good year.”
Those four players should also provide much of the juice in the Ridgefield lineup, with Scammon the team’s biggest power threat.
“They can all hit,” said Bentson. “They are our core group.”
Scammon, a two-year starter, and Taddonio, a three-year starter, will also anchor the center of the Ridgefield defense.
Eckhoff could see time at shortstop this season along with junior Tara Westington, who can also play third base. Westington, one of Ridgefield’s fastest players, is also a back-up pitcher.
Two freshmen are slated to start in the infield, as Rachel Black will be at first base and Meghan Hyatt at second base.
Another ninth grader, Claire Phelan, looks set to be one of the team’s corner outfielders, along with senior Olivia Eltz.
The leading reserves include junior infielder Christina Gramling, freshman catcher Gwen Ellis and freshman utility player Morgan Bohrer.
“It’s a strong freshman class,” said Bentson. “We are going to put them in there right away.”
Bentson said one advantage for her team will be its ability to play different styles.
“We have a good mix of power hitters and slappers with speed,” she said. “We can play small ball and we can also drive runs in.”