Each new season brings a new list of questions and uncertainly for every high school sports team.
For the Kenmore West Lady Blue Devils softball team there is no question that the talent to succeed is there. It’s just a matter of figuring out exactly where each piece of the puzzle fits best.
“I think that we have the talent to go a long way,” head coach Matt Chimera said.
As the Blue Devils come into the 2017 season they will be led by captains Allie Chimera (2B/SS) and Grace Ferguson (3B/SS), both seniors, and junior pitcher Abby Borkowski.
All experienced travel softball players, Chimera, Ferguson and Borkowski give the Blue Devils the extremely rare plus of three players who are heading into their fourth year as varsity starters. Something Chimera, who has been head coach since 1995, believes the team has never had. Allie Chimera, like any senior, wants to make her last season a memorable one. Those memories start with a strong work ethic and dedication. Which, according to Chimera, every girl has shown from Day One
“I was really surprised from the first day of tryouts,” Allie Chimera said. “I thought it was going to be difficult because not everyone has played together like we usually (have), but from the first day of tryouts I honestly saw a better team then we had last year.”
Rich in softball talent, for the Blue Devils training camp will hopefully help them figure who will best fit into key roles.
Ferguson was going to be the Blue Devils project at shortstop to replace Emily King, one of six departed seniors.
But a knee injury that she suffered during soccer season has a bit of a question mark next to Ferguson’s name. Though she is fully cleared and is participating in training camp, with indoor only practices to this point it’s almost impossible to gauge if Ferguson currently has the range needed to play shortstop. So the Blue Devils are wisely airing on the side of caution and looking at other options at short.
Junior Jessica Leone, who was one of the Blue Devils offensive studs in 2016, played catcher last season. The hope is that the athletic and agile Leone, who plays shortstop and third base in travel ball, can step out from behind the plate and fill one of those spots on a more regular basis.
Borkowski and Ferguson have been Ken-West’s 1-2 punch in the pitching circle the last couple of years, but the presence of sophomore Lydia Serrano gives them another option on the rubber.
Serrano, who can also play catcher, could be the X-factor that will make the Blue Devils that much better. When Serrano catches it will allow Leone to play short.
Sophomore Rachel Valente, who made a name for herself last season with her dazzling play in center field, could also be an option at third base.
Junior Sydney McIntosh will be at first base, while speedy senior Rachel Sefried, who came over from the track and field team, will be utilized primarily as a courtesy runner, but could see time in the outfield.
Melanie Gugino, Frankie Mercado, Olivia Domiano, Ciara Sinatra and Zoe Battaglia (3B) will also be in the outfield and Madison Sorrentino will be play catcher.
As whole, coach Chimera believes his offense will be one of the team’s strong points.
Like their baseball counterparts, the softball team will also be road warriors due to field renovations going on at Kenmore West High School. The girls will play home games and practice at Expressway Diamonds. No longer having the convenience of walking out the backdoor of the school to get to their field will be a daily challenge for the Lady Blue Devils. Abby Borkowski said that with the varsity and JV diamonds being next to each other at Expressway it should foster a strong bond between both teams,which will be a big plus. But there is no getting around the fact that not being able to play at Ken-West is disappointing for everyone.
“It’s gonna hurt knowing that we can’t play at our field, especially for the seniors since this is their last season,” Borkowski said.
“We’ve played there for a good six years. It’s like our second home. It’s gonna hurt, but we’re gonna have to persevere and get through it.”