The long-awaited spring high school sports season has arrived, which is welcome news for the Lenape Valley High School softball team.
The Patriots return a strong core of veteran student athletes to the varsity roster and are getting ready for considerable competition on the field.
“Our team has a common goal of being able to compete day in and day out,’’ head coach Julianne Brennan said. “This group is hungry to compete for the conference title as well as the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament and the (NJSIAA) state tournament in the 2022-23 season.
“Ending last season with a bang by winning our last seven out of 10 games set the bar high for this group of girls. I have no doubt that they are capable of competing at a high level and executing their role on the softball field this upcoming season.’’
Key returning varsity-level players include seniors Laney Kenny (short stop, .393 batting average, 22 hits and 14 stolen bases in 2022), Alyssa Canfield (third base, .377 batting average, 23 hits and 10 RBIs in 2022) and Erin Yanavok (pitcher); juniors Julia Parise (catcher), Lindsay Fehir (second base), Julia Paiva (outfielder) and Jazzlyn Olivier (outfielder); and sophomores Paige Henriksen (pitcher, .298 batting average, 17 hits and 19 RBIs in 2022), Callie Stevenson (center fielder, .280 batting average, 14 hits and eight stolen bases in 2022), Adrianna Gangi (first base), Sarah O’Reilly (outfielder) and Kendra Smith (outfielder).
Freshman outfielder Lexie Esposito is a promising newcomer, hoping to make a positive impression on the varsity roster.
“Laney Kenny, Alyssa Canfield and Erin Yanavok will be leaders/captains for the young Lady Patriots this year,’’ Brennan said. “Early in the season, they took ownership of their leadership roles, which instantly began to create an upbeat, positive environment for our players as they enter the 2022-23 season.
“I hope that these young ladies continue to lead by example on and off the field as the exceptional student athletes that they are. These three young ladies are well-rounded individuals who are seen as role models for our younger players, and I cannot wait to see them fulfill their role as leaders of this team.’’
Lenape Valley had an overall record of 9-10 and was 5-5 in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Freedom Division last year.
The team also advanced to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North 1 Group 2 sectional tournament, where they were defeated by Indian Hills.
Lenape Valley competes in the NJAC Freedom Division along with Kittatinny, High Point, Jefferson, Vernon and North Warren.
“I view our team as a contender for the division,’’ the coach said. “Being very young last year, we started off slow, but as the season went on, we started to gel together as a team which led to wins that these girls earned through hard work and determination.
“In preseason, these girls set high expectations as a team and I am excited to see them carry out those expectations that they set for themselves.
“Every team is the team to beat in our division this year. Vernon won the division last year. Jefferson always has a solid foundation as well as Vernon and High Point. We also have North Warren back in our division this year, and they are always solid.’’
Ending last season with a bang by winning our last seven out of 10 games set the bar high for this group of girls. I have no doubt that they are capable of competing at a high level and executing their role on the softball field this upcoming season.” - Julianne Brennan, head softball coach, Lenape Valley Regional High School