MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE – The Columbia High School varsity softball team, under second-year head coach Cliff Smith, hopes to have another successful season behind a good returning nucleus.
The Lady Cougars, who had a solid 17-8 record last season, are led by such returning players as sophomore Maya Goldner, who moves from second base last year to shortstop this year; sophomore pitcher/first baseman/outfielder Jordan Stephan; senior third baseman Gabby Salinardo; sophomore catcher Ally Krause; senior left fielder Bridget Sherman; and sophomore right fielder Addie Nicholas.
The first-year varsity players are first baseman/pitcher Sophie Goldman; second baseman/pitcher Sam Waldon; and center fielder Clementine Sherman, all sophomores.
Leading the way will be Goldner.
“She has proven that she can do big things in big situations,” Smith said. “She led our team in a lot of offensive categories last year as a freshman and she has looked great so far in pre-season. I am expecting big things from Maya.”
Defense and the ability to play small ball are the team’s strengths, Smith said.
“Our main goal as a team this year is to build off of our 17-8 record last year,” Smith said.. “We finished third in the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division last year and we are hoping to make the jump and win it this year. Our schedule is much more challenging this year than it was last year, so I am excited to see how our girls respond to the better competition.
“The main key for us obtaining our goals is, of course, staying healthy, and also being able to respond when things are not going our way,” added Smith. “We are still extremely young with only two seniors and no juniors, and in the game of softball, things don’t always go your way. So if we can respond to the negatives, then we can be extremely successful.”
The assistant coach is Bill Mullen. The junior varsity head coach is Tina DeFalco, and her assistant coach is Bobby Ellis.
The Cougars lost at Caldwell, 8-3, in the season opener Friday, April 1. Stephan went 1-for-2 with two RBI; and Goldman and Nichols each had two hits.
The following are other upcoming games:
April 4, Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.
April 5, at Westfield, 4 p.m
April 6, at West Orange, 4 p.m.
April 7, at Villa Walsh, 4 p.m.
April 8, at Verona, 4 p.m.
April 11, Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.
April 13, at Newark Academy, 4 p.m.
April 14, at Mendham, 4 p.m.
April 15, Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
April 18, Caldwell, 4 p.m.
April 20, at Montclair Kimberley Academy
April 21, Millburn, 7 p.m.
April 25, West Orange, 4 p.m.
April 26, MKA, 4 p.m.
April 27, Verona, 4 p.m.
April 29, at Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.
May 2, Newark Academy, 4 p.m.
May 4, at Newark East Side, 4 p.m.
May 5, at Colonia, 4 p.m.
May 9, Governor Livingston, 4 p.m.
May 10, Cranford, 1 p.m.
May 12, at Watchung Hills, 4 p.m.
May 19, at Belleville, 4 p.m.