2016 Softball Outlook
For the love of the game.
The Rider University softball team returns 15 letterwinners and the Broncs welcome a new head coach for the first time in two decades.
Hired in January, head coach Jaclyn Timko is instilling a recommitment to the sport, one that demands 100 percent effort every time you step on the field but she is also asking the squad to look inside themselves and rediscover why they picked up a bat and ball.
For the love of the game.
“I expect the team to go out and be competitive each and every game,” said Timko. “There are no excuses and the season is theirs for the taking. And really I want them to remember why they compete and why they play. This is supposed to be fun and that’s what I’m looking for, to make a name for Rider softball and for us to go back to our roots. We really want to refine and rediscover our love for the game.”
The 51-game schedule begins with a trip to Rock Hill, South Carolina February 26-28 and the home opener is tentatively scheduled against North Carolina A&T March 7 and 8.
Rider returns four pitchers from the pitching staff last season, which was one of the youngest in the nation as far as innings and experience.
A junior from Roseville, California, DeMello is a 40-game veteran and last season, appeared in 20 games, making 16 starts and had a team-high 12 complete games while leading the team in wins and innings pitched (98.1).
Kallert appeared in six games last year, making five starts before her season was ended by an injury.
“What is going to be key for us is that all of the pitchers bring something different to the table, some throw hard, some mix it up and spin the ball, we have some options with matchups and splitting games up to throw the opponents off,” Timko said.
Senior catcher Kim Valdes anchors the catching corps.
“We are looking for the catchers to be the voice, the ones that control the entire defense,” said Timko. “They will also control what the pitchers do so that’s a key area of development for us.”
A 113-game veteran, Valdes enters her senior season with 82 hits and appeared in 40 games, making 35 starts as a junior.
“Kim has been great as far as offering some guidance to the younger players,” Timko added. “Her role has been showing the catchers how things should be done.”
From Allentown, New Jersey, Sensi is a two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference All-Academic honoree. As a junior, she was a unanimous First Team All-MAAC selection as an infielder after starting all 47 games and compiling a .380 average with 13 home runs and 12 RBI. A 143-game veteran, her 142 hits are already 27th best all-time at Rider and she finished the 2015 season tied for first in the MAAC in doubles and was second in the conference in home runs, total bases, third in RBIs and slugging percentage, was sixth in runs scored and hits and seventh in batting average and batted .417 in conference play.
“Dana is the sense of calm that everyone kind of looks to,” said Timko about her all-conference infielder. “Her presence on the field makes everyone feel at ease.”
A 132-game veteran from Beachwood, New Jersey, Cottrell enters her senior season with 88 hits. Last season, she played in and started 40 games and was second on the team in doubles, and was third on the team in batting average, hits and runs (17) and fourth in RBIs.
“Emily is an aggressive defender, diving after everything she can get to,” Timko said.
The middle infield is led by Amanda Crimarco at shortstop.
From Levittown, New York, Crimarco played in 35 games, making 34 starts as a sophomore and led the team with four sacrifice bunts and had a fielding percent of .908.
“Amanda has been consistent with her defense and her arm,” Timko said. “We will look for the pitchers to throw ground balls and the infielders need to make the plays behind them. We want the pitchers to just worry about getting outs and hopefully that takes some of the pressure off the staff.”
An outfielder herself as one of the top players in the history of Robert Morris softball, Timko is especially excited about the group that will patrol the gaps on the softball diamond and at Herb and Joan Young Field.
“Our outfield is fast,” Timko said. “We are still working on accuracy and arm strength but we are making those plays and stealing those hits and that will help keep us out of a lot of big innings.”
With a new coach and new excitement surrounding the Rider softball program, the Broncs hope the focus on the love of the game will bring a return to the conference playoffs and a chance at the NCAA tournament.