Softball looks to build on 2023 campaign

Coming off of a strong season last year that ended in a loss in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championships to No. 2 The College of New Jersey, Ramapo’s softball team looks to improve for the 2024 season. The Roadrunners notably took down No. 1 Rowan University in last year’s NJAC tournament and earned an NCAA Tournament bid.

“Falling short in the NJAC finals last year was truly heartbreaking. Coming into this year, we knew that this year was going to be our revenge year,” senior first baseman Avery Bartolomeo said in an email to The Ramapo News. “We are excited, determined and will stop at nothing in order to make it to the NJAC Finals, and to win it this year.”

As they entered their season this week, the team was ranked at No. 3 in the NJAC Softball Preseason Poll. They also ended at No. 3 last year with a 33-14-1 record overall and 13-4-1 in the NJAC. 

Head coach Bridgette Quimpo is entering her 11th year in the position for Ramapo. Under her leadership, the team has made it to the NJAC tournament eight times, winning the championships in 2015 and the NCAA tournament in 2017.

“Success is measured in different ways and our success is measured by our growth and development,” Quimpo said in an email, reflecting on last year’s success. “We were simply very talented last year and we learned a lot about ourselves and the importance of leadership, culture, and accountability for this year.”

Many of last year’s strongest players return to the team, including junior infielder Katie Rygiel who tallied 68 hits and Bartolomeo who recorded a team-high six home runs. 

All five starting pitchers from last year — sophomore Brooke Knight, junior Marissa DiPaolo, senior Mahogany Wheeler, sophomore Kassy Stefanski and junior Sara Capetti — return to the mound as well. Knight stood out last season for tallying 68 strikeouts in 56 innings.

Much of the team is coming back with confidence in their abilities and a focus on the title after proving what they could do in the NJAC tournament last season.

“Having that experience has given us the expectation on how we need to approach practices, and focus on the smaller details to bring us back to the Finals,” Wheeler said in an email. “I just hope that I can do whatever I can to help this team be successful in any way possible, at any cost.”

Quimpo expressed that she has seen this determination from many of the returning players.

“That experience made our players realize how talented they really were, but this year they now believe and have the confidence they can win it,” Quimpo said. “There is a lot of excitement and energy on the team and we cannot wait to see them all succeed in their own process while succeeding together as a team.”

The softball team welcomes six new players this season, freshmen outfielder Emma Jones, outfielder Clay’le Correa-Vanness, infielder Sophia Diaz, infielder Amanda Esposito and utility player Mikelle Stubbs as well as transfer student Ysabellah Otero, who will serve as a catcher and infielder.

Quimpo sees much promise in the newer players, especially with the speed from “lefty slapper” Correa-Vanness and the power from Diaz and Otero.

“We had a pretty big freshman class that came in this year, so I thought it would take us quite a while to mesh well together, but honestly our team is very close both on and off the field. Our chemistry came very naturally which will be such a huge bonus to our success in the upcoming season,” Wheeler said.

Ramapo opened their season on Tuesday against John Jay College in a doubleheader at home, losing 6-5 in game one and winning 5-0 in game two. They will next travel to Clermont, Florida to take on 12 different opponents at the THE Spring Games during spring break.

“This team is truly like no other I’ve been a part of and has so much potential for great things,” Wheeler said.

The team will start their NJAC match-ups in a doubleheader at home against The College of New Jersey on Saturday, March 30.


Featured photo courtesy of Ramapo Athletics