by Daniel Fappiano
Last season, the Central Connecticut softball team finished 15-24 overall and 8-8 in the Northeast Conference, missing the postseason tournament. This season, after losing no one to graduation and adding seven new recruits, the Blue Devils are looking to turn things around and prove they’re one of the better teams in the NEC.
Head coach Breanne Gleason enters her sixth season at the helm, and she expects the team to improve from last year’s output.
“Every year, you look to do a little better than the last,” Gleason said. “The past few years we haven’t made the NEC tournament, we’ve been rebuilding a little bit from 2015 and I think that this is the year we get back to playing like Central should.”
After having no seniors on last year’s team, the Blue Devils will now feature five. Among them are captains Lex Debrosse and Brittany Camara. Gleason feels that the two infielders will be crucial to her team’s success this year.
“Debrosse and Camara are two people we’ve looked to for a long time, but especially this year they’ve really stepped up,” Gleason said. “Their play is elevated to a point where they just show up every day and I can’t wait to see what they bring on the field. I think that they make everybody around them better too.”
Both Debrosse and Camara shined as juniors, with Debrosse led the team in home runs with six and Camara led the team in stolen bases with 14. Debrosse, the team’s starting shortstop, was named to the All-NEC second team.
As for their pitching, CCSU returns the same group that finished third in the NEC with a 3.71 earned run average. They were one of just three teams in the conference to have two pitchers in the top ten for ERA with Alex Casanas sporting a 3.56 and Emily Sargent earning a 3.67.
Central has seven new freshmen on the roster in 2018. Gleason thinks that all seven have the ability to make a difference on the mound and with the bat immediately.
“They’re very athletic, they’re a very diverse class, most of them could actually pitch as well when they got here so they were just all around good softball players,” Gleason said. “They definitely bring a different vibe to the team, they bring a lot of energy. All of them can swing it, they can all play, and they’re going to mix things up for sure.”
Individually, the Blue Devils have multiple players that could help them make their way back into the NEC tournament. However, for Gleason, it’ll be the team’s defense that makes them special. After finishing second in the NEC with a .973 fielding percentage in 2017, the head coach expects more of the same from her team.
“I’m a big believer that defense should be a constant,” Gleason said. “We can’t always control how we’re going to hit and the opposing team’s pitching is always a variable, but we can always decide to play defense. I think that no matter who is on the field, whether they’re a freshman or senior we’re looking to play defense.”
The Blue Devils are looking to win the NEC and make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. If the team improves as Coach Gleason is expecting, they might just accomplish that goal.
Central will begin their season on Feb. 23 against Sienna as part of a 15 game road-streak before coming home to take on Yale University on March 13.