With six freshmen on the varsity roster and a new head coach, the Hopkinton High School softball team is bringing fresh energy to the spring season and plans to compete in the challenging Tri-Valley League.
Will Collins is in his fourth year with the Hillers program, but this is his first as the varsity coach as he steps in for Shannon Allberry-Yerardi, who is on maternity leave.
“I’ve been involved in coaching for about 10 years and I look at this as a big opportunity,” Collins said. “There are some players who made the varsity when they were younger, and now I have the chance to coach them this year.”
Two of those veteran players are pitchers Charlotte Cann and Julianna Ceddia, both of whom are senior captains.
“They are both great friends and wonderful people and they came into this season with a lot of experience,” Collins said. “They really root for one another to be successful, even though they play the same position. They want the other one to pitch and play well.”
Senior Emily Jurasek also is serving as a captain this spring and has moved to shortstop after playing the outfield as a junior.
“She has been a great vocal leader and she’s done a good job communicating with the other fielders,” Collins said. “She will be the leadoff hitter again this year.”
Collins noted that Jurasek hit around .370 a season ago.
“We are looking to see big things out of her,” the coach said.
Junior outfielder Caroline DeSimone is the team’s fourth captain and a returning TVL All-Star.
“She was one of the better players in the league last year,” Collins said. “She covers a lot of ground in the outfield and she is very athletic. She’ll be a great hitter for both average and power. The expectations are high for her.”
Even with all of the experience the Hillers bring to the table, there still is a large contingent of newcomers who are playing big roles. Hopkinton started the season with four of the six freshmen on the roster earning spots in the starting lineup, and they helped the Hillers to a 3-3 start. The new blood factors into the team’s goals this spring.
“We are looking for a positive team culture and to make sure all of our players have a good experience,” Collins said. “We want to be competitive and we want to develop this young corps of freshmen we have.”
The senior captains have been “vital” when it comes to helping the younger players along, Collins said.
“They have been very open to talking to the coaching staff about things they observe and recommendations they have for how we run practice and what we want to work on as a team,” he said. “We have a great group. They are very close, and the ninth-grade class is mature past their age.”
Collins was clear that he did not view the season as a rebuilding campaign.
“We are hoping to contend in the league,” he said. “That’s our goal. We want to be competitive in every game and compete in our league. The expectation is that we are going to win games.”