Softball team rebuilding with new pitcher, young talent

NEWTON. The Braves hope to contend and win the division title, coach says.

Newton /
| 01 Apr 2023 | 10:04

Getting better each time that they step on the field isn’t something that’s just being discussed among members of the Newton High School softball team.

The Braves are working with determination and enthusiasm as they get set for regular-season competition.

Newton is scheduled to host Kinnelon on April 10.

“(We are looking for) improvement - especially at the plate,’’ head coach Paul Filan said. “We struggled at the end of last year with injuries, and a lot of girls had to play a bigger role on the team than they were ready for, but at the same time, they gained a lot of valuable playing experience that will benefit them this season.

“As a team, we really struggled at the plate last season so this is an area I would like to see improved.”

The Braves have moved to the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Colonial Division.

“We hope to contend and win the ... Colonial Division title,’’ Filan said.

Among key returning varsity student athletes are seniors Allison Mountford (short stop and outfielder), Rylie Corby (first base), Rachel Borsuiewicz (second base), Ailish Black (third base) and Jaylin Bash (outfielder) and juniors Melissa Fehr (pitcher and third base), Catherine Vena (catcher and outfielder) and Katie Golder Ryan (catcher).

Promising newcomers include junior Kiersten Lee (outfielder), sophomore Riley Mills (outfielder), and freshmen Bell DeLeon (third base and outfielder), Jordyn Young (currently injured) and Jacqlyn Vena (outfielder).

Leadership could be an important factor in favor of the Braves this season.

Senior captain Allison Mountford will be looked upon as a leader, the coach said.

“We lost a lot of senior leadership this past year. Allison is a three-year varsity player with a lot of experience. She played on the Freedom Division championship team in 2021 and has a lot of knowledge and experience. Her teammates respect her for her commitment to the team and hard work. She is someone I have a lot of trust in.’’

The Braves posted seven overall wins, three of which were earned in the Freedom Division in 2022.

The team advanced to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North 1 Group 2 sectional tournament, where they were defeated by Lakeland last year.

This spring, Newton competes in the NJAC Colonial Division along with Hopatcong, Hackettstown, Sussex Tech, Morris Tech and Wallkill Valley.

“We are rebuilding as we have lost four girls over the last two years that are currently playing college softball and we lost four starters from last year’s team,’’ Filan said. “We are breaking in a new pitcher this season as well. We have a group of returning girls that are in a much different role this season and a lot of young girls that have talent but not a lot of varsity experience.

“If the team can come together and girls can take their game to another level, we can definitely surprise some of the teams this season.’’