Marin Catholic Softball Nearly Pulled Off An NCS Title Run With Just Two Seniors In 2022 — This Season The Roster Is Even Younger, But No Less Dangerous •
PICTURED ABOVE: Key Sophomores For The Wildcats This Season Will Includes (Left To Right) Selena Pena, Anya Jaroszewski and Lindsay Harrison. (Chace Bryson photos)
Dave Albini was spent. His entire Marin Catholic softball team was too.
The Wildcats had just outlasted Livermore in 11 innings to advance to their first North Coast Section Division II final as a program. It was the team’s third straight extra-inning game, and second straight 11-inning affair.
“We were walking out of that Livermore game, and a parent, who was practically in tears, asked, ‘Dave, have you ever seen anything like this since you’ve been coaching?,” Albini said recently by phone. “I hadn’t. The girls just had so much stamina and will to win.”
The run ended with a 6-1 loss at Benicia a few days later, but it almost certainly left an impression on a predominantly young roster. Eight months later, Marin Catholic should be one of the more fascinating teams to watch throughout the North Coast Section.
The Wildcats subtracted two impactful seniors — pitcher Rose Malen and third baseman Kiley Koch — but the rest of the roster returns. They also have added six new freshmen to the mix. After having seven freshmen a season ago.
“We’ve got a very young team right now,” said Albini, who has led Marin Catholic softball to all three of its NCS titles in his first 10 seasons (one in Div. III and two in Div. IV). “We may have as many as three freshmen and four sophomores starting early on. … We’ll take some early losses and hopefully by midseason we’ll be in good shape.”
A smart coach won’t rely on that much youth without having a few seniors to lean on. And Albini has some very good ones — two of which he’s known since they were also freshmen on varsity.
The Wildcats will be built around the talent and leadership of their two middle infielders, shortstop Lauren Osheroff and second baseman Sammy Horn. Both batted over .500 last season and combined for 88 hits and 49 runs scored. Osheroff homered in the playoff win over Livermore and Horn went 9-for-18 over four postseason games.
Both players know their biggest role during the first month of the season is building confidence and chemistry among the rest of the roster.
“I see them interacting with the freshmen all the time,” Albini said of the two seniors. “It puts a smile on my face. It’s a big deal. Sammy and Lauren are on to their next step. They’re a big deal to these younger girls who are fresh into high school and trying to adapt to playing with girls who are 2 and 3 years older. That interaction, it gets them to feel comfortable and play better as well.”
Of course, you don’t join a defending NCS runner-up as a freshman without having some talent.
“I think overall we’re really athletic,” Horn said. “A lot of these freshmen are very athletic and competitive. … I think that we’re definitely bonding well, too. (Lauren and I) definitely put an emphasis on that.”
Horn has signed to play for Boston College after graduating from Marin Catholic. She’ll once again be at the top of the Wildcats lineup where she collected more than 50 hits a season ago.
“She’s great at getting on base and getting things started for us,” Albini said. “She’s also great defensively. I can put her anywhere.”
Osheroff, who remains uncommitted, will move to the heart of the order where Albini thinks she’s headed for a much bigger year.
“She’s going to be our power hitter,” the coach said. “In our first scrimmage she hit a home run in her first at bat. I truly believe she was one of the best players in the NCS Div. II tournament last year. She was finally getting healthy (from an ankle sprain) and it really showed.”
Osheroff and Horn won’t be the only seniors on this team. But they will be until the Marin Catholic girls basketball season ends.
Lehigh-bound hooper Gracyn Lovette will likely take over at first base when she’s done on the hardwood. She drove in 11 runs on 15 hits last season, and it was really her first full season of varsity softball after sticking with basketball during the COVID season in Spring 2021. Lauren Gogna is also a senior captain on the basketball team who will join softball at season’s end.
“I’m so excited for Gracyn to come to the team,” Osheroff said. “Obviously basketball is her focus — and Go MC Basketball. But the end will be bittersweet because I’m so excited for both her and Lauren to play with us because they add so much to the team.”
The sophomore class is going to have a major impact on this roster as well. They’re grouped into the “youth” of the club, but many of them logged several innings as freshmen. And they were part of that playoff run that should prove immensely valuable this season.
The group’s most notable names will be Anya Jaroszewski, who started at catcher last season. There’s also centerfielder Lindsay Harrison, who had 27 hits and five triples last season. Albini has noticed a more intense focus from her after a strong summer of travel ball. Osheroff has too.
“She works so hard,” Osheroff said of Harrison. “She’s definitely improved a lot since last year. I’m really excited to see what she does this season.”
A third sophomore, Selena Pena, will be first in line to fill perhaps the biggest cleats from that 2022 postseason run. They were the ones inside the circle.
Malen had a dominant senior season, going 17-4 with a 0.71 ERA and an ability to pitch out of several jams during the Wildcats’ extra-inning wins. Pena will look to take over after getting 19 innings of work as a freshman.
Those 19 innings were certainly promising. She finished 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA. In her last three appearances, she allowed a combined two hits with 16 strikeouts over eight innings.
“She has a really good changeup to go with her faster stuff,” Horn said. “I think it’s her best pitch and she does really well with it. She’s really growing as a player and a person, and I think she’s getting more comfortable with the team and more confident.”
Osheroff echoed those thoughts and settled on a word that she thinks might be the biggest key to Marin Catholic’s success this season.
“We’re going to come together more as a team playing behind a younger pitcher,” the shortstop said. “She’s going to know that the team has her back and we’ll be supporting her with every pitch … I think we just need to trust each other. We all know we have the same goal. I think if we trust each other, then we’re going to execute.”
And it may not matter how many innings it takes.