Preston has kept the line moving and runs crossing the plate all season so their main priority as the playoff near is defense.
“We have to make sure we’re really disciplined and play good defense,” senior catcher Bianca Mastropietro said. “We know that the hits will come, so it’s just about keeping the defense tight.”
The Panthers brought at least seven hitters to the plate in three of the five innings they played against Kennedy Catholic and 13 of them found their way around the bases. Preston scored in every single frame to secure a 13-5 five-inning, run-rule victory over the Gaels in CHSAA softball at Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park on May 5.
Despite the offense barrage that broke open a 6-5 game heading to the bottom of the fourth, the talk of the team is defense. Preston is coming off a disappointing end to last season where an error cost it a CHSAA Archdiocesan title. It also made costly mistake in the field during its lone league defeat this year to rival Cardinal Spellman. The club continues to believe it can pull all facets of their game will mesh in time.
“I feel like the confidence is still there because we had such a great season last year, but now we have to keep working harder as a team because there are so many new girls,” senior Brianna Rodriguez said. “We have to weave it all together so that it’s perfect for the playoffs.”
The Panthers offense was not carried by one person. The entire lineup puts the ball in play. However, the two biggest hits of the game were hit by Mastropietro. The senior homered twice in the game, with blasts to both straight away center and left field. Mastropietro would finish with three RBI and a walk in the second inning where she was pitched around.
Coach Frank Toscano has taken advantage of the bad weather, which has led to the postponement of many games early on, by taking them inside to work on their fielding. Nicolette McPartland picked up the win the circle.
“It’s the defense that hasn’t been good,” Toscano said. “When we hit, we’re fine.”
His middle of the order is as intimidating as they come, consisting of Rodriguez, Mastropietro and Ashley Puig who did not play against Kennedy.
“That’s the heartbeat of this team,” Toscano said. “They knew it from the beginning. Those girls were left over from last year’s team and I put a little extra pressure on them.”
With the rubber match Spellman coming up, the Panthers are confident that their defense will be the deciding factor. The difference between the win and the lost were zero mistakes in the victory and host of mistake in the defeat.
“It’s going to be such an intense game,” Mastropietro said. “We have to make sure we limit the errors—we made a lot of errors last time—and just keeping the defense tight.”