Cape Tech Softball Hopes To Build On Last Year’s Victories

by Brad Joyal

HARWICH – For more than a decade, the Cape Cod Tech softball team was starving to experience the taste of victory.

After finally snapping its winless drought last May with a 24-12 victory over Upper Cape Tech before ultimately finishing with a 5-13 mark, the Crusaders are determined to take the next step this spring and compete for a spot in the Division 5 state tournament.

“It’s a little bit different,” Cape Tech coach Mike Manley said about the mood of this year’s team. “It’s more relaxed. We have a big turnout — 25 or 26 girls — so it can get a little hectic at times. We might take some lumps at the beginning, but we’re going to get stronger as the season goes on.”

The players agree with Manley. After rallying to earn four additional wins after their initial victory over Upper Cape Tech, the players said their confidence is already elevating during the preseason.

“We have a lot more confidence this year compared to last year, at least starting off,” said senior Mikaela Venuti, a Barnstable resident. “I think our confidence has already started growing — last year we didn’t gain any confidence until we won that game.”

It helps that the Crusaders will boast plenty of veteran leadership this spring. Six seniors and one junior are returning, though Manley is expecting some youngsters to make an immediate impact as well.

“I think some of the underclassmen, especially some of the freshmen, will help us out,” he said.

The increased numbers are a stark contrast from when this year’s seniors arrived on campus.

“My freshman year, there were only nine girls on the team,” said senior Laura Feliz de Jesus, a West Yarmouth resident. “We were begging girls to play so we’d have a team. This year, we have 27 girls trying out and they are all putting their effort in.”

The big question surrounding this year’s team is who will lead the pitching efforts. After losing last year’s ace pitcher Ana Rolfe to graduation, Manley said the season will hinge on how the team can pitch.

“If we get a pitcher, we’ll do very well,” Manley said. “Our hitting is pretty good. Our philosophy now is if we’re going to give up 18 runs, we have to score 19. That’s what we did last year.”

Although there are questions that need to be answered, the Crusaders are certainly riding high after stringing together five victories late last season.

“In the past, we’d go to hit and everyone was scared just to even step in the batter’s box,” said senior Adelyn Burlingame, a Yarmouth resident. “[Now] everyone is excited to go hit and actually wants to play. It’s really cool to see.”

“It’s a lot better,” agreed Amberlis Hidalgo, a Harwich resident. “I feel like we’re motivated to start playing games and to improve as a team.”

Cape Tech is scheduled to begin its season at Old Colony at 3:30 p.m. on April 4.