First-year head coach Pam Putorti doesn’t like to make predictions, but she does guarantee Whitehall’s varsity softball players will put forth their full effort.
“I don’t like to make predictions and I don’t like the girls to make predictions. We’re going to go out every game and try to win, and we’re going to try and improve every game,” Putorti said. “We’re going to play hard.”
Putorti, who served as assistant coach last season, takes over a young but experienced team that qualified for Sectionals last year for the third consecutive season. Although the team lost four seniors from last year’s squad, seven players return, most of who saw considerable playing time last year.
Putorti said that continuity should serve the team well, especially considering seven of the 11 girls on the roster have missed practice time because of a school trip to Costa Rica.
“It’s been a little a difficult with seven of the girls gone but many of them played together last year, so I think they’ll gel quickly,” she said.
Chantel Baker and Maggie Benjamin are expected to be stabilizing factors as the team’s senior leaders.
“They’ve been very good,” Putorti said.
The team’s early focus has been on eliminating errors in the field and not giving their opponents additional opportunities.
Putorti will look to a group of four players to replace second baseman Hillary Fenton and third baseman Kaitlyn Fiorini, both of whom graduated, but the rest of the infield looks set. Ariel Ayers is expected to play first base; second team Adirondack all-star selection Carli Varmette will play shortstop and Victoria Christian will handle the catching duties.
“Vicky provides us with some great leadership behind the plate,” Putorti said.
Throwing to Christian will be Brittney Putorti, who started every game for the Railroaders last season and was named an Adirondack League first-team all star.
Jackie Raino and Ashley Hobus are projected to play left and center field, respectively, and Benjamin and Emily Harker may split time in right depending on the rest of the infield shakes out.
Offensively the team members have been working on their pitch selection so they can increase their on-base percentage.
“Once we get on base, we’re going to be more aggressive and take advantage of the situations that arise,” Putorti said. “They’re all quick, so that should help.”
With only 11 girls on the roster, everyone will be asked to contribute.
Usual suspects Lake George and Fort Ann will be favored in the league, but if Whitehall plays up to its potential, the Railroaders should be able to stay with them.
“We held our own against them last year. I’m hoping for good things,” Putorti said.
“This is a fantastic group of girls. They’re all smart and I haven’t had any behavior problems. Their parents should all be very proud of them.”
The team opens at home against Warrensburg on April 2 and hosts rival Fort Ann on April 4. Both games start at 4:15 p.m.
Chantel Baker, Sr. (2B)
Maggie Benjamin, Sr. (RF)
Ariel Ayers, Jr. (1B)
Victoria Christian, Jr. (C)
Emily Harker, Jr. (3B/RF)
Ashley Hobus, Jr. (CF)
Paxton Peterson, Jr. (2B)
Brittney Putorti, Jr. (P)
Jackie Raino, Jr. (LF)
Olivia Short, Fr. (3B/C)
Carli Varmette, Jr. (SS)
Mon., April 2 Warrensburg at Whitehall
Wed., April 4 Fort Ann at Whitehall
Mon., April 16 Whitehall at Fort Edward
Wed., April 18 Bolton at Whitehall
Fri., April 20 Whitehall at Hartford
Mon., April 23 Argyle at Whitehall
Wed., April 25 Whitehall at Corinth
Fri., April 27 Whitehall at Salem
Mon., April 30 Whitehall at Fort Ann
Wed., May 2 Whitehall at North Warren
Fri., May 4 Fort Edward at Whitehall
Mon., May 7 Hartford at Whitehall
Wed., May 9 Whitehall at Lake George
Thurs., May 10 Whitehall at Argyle
Mon., May 14 Salem at Whitehall
Wed., May 16 Luzerne at Whitehall
*All games begin at 4:15 p.m.