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April 4, 2013

Softball Preview: Cape Ann softball teams enter season with optimism

There’s plenty of reason to be excited about the prospects of Cape Ann’s softball teams this spring.

Gloucester, Rockport and Manchester Essex will each be trotting out plenty of new faces to the diamond this spring, and that’s exactly what has each coach excited to get the season going.

In Gloucester, head coach John Nicastro is starting an influx of underclassmen. The defending Cape Ann League Division 3 champs and 2012 sectional semifinalist Rockport is breaking in several new starters this spring while Manchester Essex also has new faces and underclassmen scattered across the lineup.

Here’s a look at how each team stacks up heading into the 2013 season.

Raising the bar

The Rockport softball program has continued to raise the bar of success over the last few seasons culminating in a conference title, its second straight, and the first trip to the sectional semifinals in school history.

The Vikings lost some key figures from that group including five starters. Dianne Parisi’s squad, however, enters this season a fairly inexperienced yet confident group.

“We have a lot of turnover but I think we’ll be fine,” Parisi said. “It helps that the program has been so successful over the last few seasons. The bar has already been set for them. I think it’s a strength that we are young, they have put in the work, they know their goals and they are all good, solid athletes.”

The biggest void Rockport will have to replace this season is on the mound, as four-year starting pitcher Kristin Turner was lost to graduation. Fortunately, Parisi has a wealth of pitching options.

Parisi says she can call on any of four girls to take the mound at any given moment. Junior captain Hannah Lorden, sophomore Kayla Parisi and freshmen Rachel Balestraci and Jessica Collins all figure to see time on the mound this spring.

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