Coming off a trip to the Class AA semifinals last year, the Mamaroneck Tigers seemed poised for another strong season in 2018. Despite some key losses to graduation, Mamaroneck enters this spring with an experienced and talented group that expects to once again make a deep playoff push.
The Tigers return four starters from last year’s club, including pitcher Gianna Magrino, whom head coach Susan Hannon expects to have a tremendous impact on the team’s fortunes this year. Magrino was named to the all-state team last season and appears to be continuing her development in the circle as the new season looms. On March 19, the Tigers got their first taste of spring training competition, taking on Eastchester in a scrimmage, and Hannon was pleased with what she saw from the junior righthander.
“She’s stronger, without a doubt, and she’s worked extremely hard on the physical part and maintaining her conditioning,” Hannon said. “[The scrimmage] was her first time out there live, and she was working on all her pitches well, even if we’d like to see a few more strikes from her.”
Magrino will be throwing to longtime backstop Josie Steinberg, who has built up a tremendous connection with her classmate over the last three years on the varsity level, something Hannon feels will show up in the box scores this year.
“I think their rapport is terrific,” Hannon said of the projected battery. “Josie calls the pitches and it’s rare that Gianna will shake her off; they’re totally in sync.”
Although Hannon is confident in her team’s offensive ability this year, she admits the defense behind Magrino will be the squad’s biggest question mark heading into the season. With some newer players stepping into starting roles—and some returners making position changes—the Tigers are hoping that their preseason work helps to solidify the play of the starting nine before opening day.
So far, the head coach has been pleased with what she has seen, especially the play of junior Tava Kasper who will move from third base to shortstop this year.
“It’s been an easy transition for [Tava] because she plays short on her travel team,” Hannon said. “She moves very well, she has a strong arm, and in our scrimmage she did a great job of keeping the lines of communication open with Danielle Spano at third base.”
Like many area teams, the Tigers have struggled to find outdoor practice time over the last few weeks due to inclement weather, but they are slated to open up the 2018 campaign on March 27 when they travel to Clarkstown South.
The Tigers’ schedule should be a tough one this year, as they are slated to face seven of the top 10 teams in Section I.
As the team looks toward its season opener, Hannon believes that it will be incumbent upon her returners to prepare the team’s younger players for the challenges ahead.
“All the girls coming back are definitely aware of what it takes for us to get back to where we were last year or do even better; they just need to impress upon the underclassmen how important it is to understand that,” she said. “I’m confident with the success we had last year on the varsity and JV level, that once the leadership and the chemistry kick in we will do well.”