By ALEX SPONSELLER
The Johnston softball team is getting its season going this week and is looking forward to improving on last year’s playoff run.
The Lady Panthers got off to a slow start in 2021 and finished the regular season with a modest 6-10 record. However, Johnston caught fire down the stretch to qualify for the Division II postseason and pulled off an opening round upset over Prout to advance to the quarterfinals.
Johnston returns roughly half of its starting lineup from last season and much of its bench pieces in hopes of making another run.
“We are just trying to carry everything over from last year. Other than a few teams, we have seen all of the teams that we will be facing this year so we just can’t get full of ourselves, but we have to keep our confidence. All the girls that we will be facing are high schoolers like we are, so we just need to play like we belong there,” said senior Emily Iannuccilli.
Coach David Iannuccilli returns to the dugout this spring and will once again be relying on his upperclassmen. He also feels that last year’s playoff experience will pay dividends this campaign.
“It was huge. They responded really well to it and we were able to steal a game. We were able to steal that game because they worked hard and were motivated,” said David Iannuccilli. “We’re going to go as far as the seniors take us. I said that last year too. I am big on leadership, and we have a few girls that are true leaders on this team. They are looking forward to the season. They work very hard in practice and they work on the fundamentals all the time. They are a great group of kids and they’re enjoyable to coach.”
The returning core of girls will also use their familiarity with one another to their benefit.
“Since a lot of us have been playing together for the last few years and some of us have been playing together since middle school, I feel that we have a lot of chemistry this year. We know how each other play and we know what to do in certain situations, so that chemistry will help us this year,” said senior Charlene Hohlmaier.
Fellow senior Courtni Beaulieu added: “With so many girls coming back, we have that chemistry and we know each other. There are some areas that may be a little iffy, but we are all used to playing together.”
As this senior core gets set to play its final high school season, girls like Victoria Butler are happy to be back to a full spring slate of games to finish it off.
“We didn’t have a sophomore season and then our junior year was cut short because of COVID. I’m just happy to be back out here and excited to be able to play a full season,” said Butler.
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