Drew Spring Sports: A Preview
Men’s and women’s teams blend experience and new energy.
January 2017 – The new semester signals the arrival of baseball, softball, lacrosse and tennis once again at Drew University. Here’s a closer look at what to expect from the school’s six teams.
Last season, the Rangers reached the Landmark Conference Championship Tournament for the first time since winning the title in 2012. This year, they aim to build on that playoff run with the return of seven position players and the entire starting pitching rotation.
“The combination of experience and the desire to achieve can make us very dangerous,” Head Coach Brian Hirschberg said. “I also believe the work ethic is there to push the team toward the goal, which is to play as deep into May as possible.”
Among the key returning players are seniors Ryan Fitzpatrick and Patrick Boyle, who’ll anchor the pitching staff, and senior designated hitter and closer Tommy Broyles, who last season earned a place on the Landmark All-Conference Team.
Junior Heather Ronchi is a leader on a Rangers team that didn’t lose a single player to graduation. Ronchi, a hard-hitting outfielder and catcher, made the Landmark All-Conference Team last year and bolsters the middle of Drew’s lineup with a career .365 batting average.
“Heather is the kind of player you build a program around,” said Head Coach Charlotte Labate. “She makes everyone around her better and has grown into a leader. She and the senior class will be ready to take this team to new heights beginning in March.”
Labate’s club launches the 2017 season with 10 contests in Clermont and Leesburg, Florida for The PFX Spring Games.
Sophomore Ty Ty Witten is back with senior doubles partner Jessica Cheng. Last spring, each made the All-Landmark doubles team and Witten achieved a singles All-Conference honor.
The team, under Head Coach Matthew Brisotti, notched a 1-1 dual match record in September and October and earned two doubles titles at the NJAIAW Tournament. A key contributor? First-year student Ashley Camel, who swiftly vaulted into the No. 1 spot with three wins in both singles and doubles play.
“Ashley has made a quick impact and pushes the upperclassmen to reach the top of their game,” Brisotti said. “Everyone is excited to get going this spring and continue building this program.”
The Rangers have started 3-0 in dual matches for the first time since 2000 and look to make it four straight against rival FDU-Florham on Feb. 25.
“We learned so much during the fall,” Brisotti said. “We discovered strengths, worked on weaknesses and most importantly, came together as a team during some fun victories.”
Reigning Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year Vineet Vemulapally is off to a fast start (3-0 in singles play), as are newcomers Salikh Gilmutdinov, Parker Diamond and Geoffrey Diehl. In doubles, the team notched an impressive 8-1 record during fall play.
Expectations are high because many first-year players are extremely talented and the team experienced an eye-opening fall scrimmage season. “Game-changing” is how Head Coach Tom Leanos describes the newcomers.
Kyle MacDonnell, Nicholas Polacek and Kevin Goettlich are among the talented rookies, who complement the established leadership of All-Conference players Michael Lloyd and Ryan D’Alessandro.
The Rangers face a challenging non-conference schedule, which begins at home on Feb. 25 against Vassar, before taking on Landmark teams.
The Rangers won five of their final six games in 2016 to clinch a spot in the Landmark Conference Championship Tournament for the eighth time in nine years. This year, with seven seniors returning, the team is aiming even higher: bringing a title to The Forest.
Similar to last year’s push, Head Coach Jane Karger recognizes the importance of stringing together wins. “With just six Landmark games, there is little room for error,” Karger said.
Look for junior Nicole Kinney to manage the midfield, senior Anna Fiorini to lead the attack and senior Gianna Minogue to shore up the defense, as goalkeeper.