Panthers off to hot start

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The Johnston softball team has jumped out to a strong start this season, boasting a 4-1 record through Tuesday afternoon.

The Lady Panthers remained one of the top teams in Division II last season, finishing with a 13-4 record and qualifying for the postseason, where they earned a first-round victory over St. Ray’s.

Although Johnston has undergone some roster turnover, coach Manny DaCosta has liked what he has seen from his new leaders to this point in the season.

“We are a young team lead by my three captains in seniors Sophia DaCosta, Emily Raposo and Samantha Febus. There is also senior Kelsey Scott. They are all great leaders that believe in what we stress most which is a team-first attitude.

DaCosta has also been encouraged by the early play of his younger players, who have already been key in the Panthers’ four wins which, some of which against tough Division II clubs such as Exeter-West Greenwich and Narragansett.

“(Our) key young players this year stepping up are pitcher Tiana Lopez, Janitza Bonilla, Emily Iannuccilli, Tori Viau, Emicely Rodriquez and Abbey Clesas,” said DaCosta.

Although the Panthers have jumped out to a nice start, DaCosta hopes his club will keep things in perspective and take one day at a time as it seeks its first-ever state championship.

“Our early goal is to continue to improve as the season goes on and so far its working out well with a 4-1 record. Then we hope to make the playoffs and see what happens from there … all while doing we hope to remember team first and have fun playing the great game of softball.”

The Panthers squared off against fellow Division II power Rogers on Wednesday afternoon, but the results were not available at press time.

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