By Stephen Foster ’22
The Providence College Softball Team is primed for a return to the diamond for a full season this year, and they cannot wait. After having two years of disrupted and shortened seasons due to COVID-19 concerns, the Friars plan on having a preseason filled with several tournaments to become game-ready.
Coach Jill Karwoski explained that it was difficult to face opponents last season who had played 20-30 more games than the Friars, and she highlighted the strength of this team to fight through this disadvantage. She stated, “Our team has been so resilient. We essentially lost two seasons, and they kept a positive mindset. We are ready to go this season.”
Karwoski has been the head coach at PC for four years, and she has been coaching college softball in the NCAA for more than 17 years. This experience gives her an understanding of the ups and downs of D1 college softball and how to bounce back after a down year. The Friars’ coach emphasized the opportunities that await the team this year and how their offseason preparation readied them to take on the new challenges of the season.
Karwoski detailed, “To prepare for the season, our players have been seeing a variety of live pitching and making adjustments. There has been a lot of work off the field with culture and team building. Their preparation creates the perfect storm of opportunity.” PC softball has remained dedicated to their craft on and off the diamond throughout the offseason, and they will prove themselves to be a contender this season.
The Friars’ game plan involves leaning on their strong pitching core to keep opponents’ run totals low, while outscoring the opposition with their equally tough hitting. PC’s softball team is led by a core of strong pitchers, including returners Daniela Alvarez ’22 and Tori Grifone ’24.
Alvarez has pitched for the Friars for three consecutive seasons, posting a 2.58 earned run average (ERA) and 25 wins throughout her college career. Grifone hopes to build off of a freshman season that saw her significantly contribute to the team on offense and defense. Not only did she finish the year with a 3.90 ERA in five pitching starts, but she also led the team in batting average (AVG) with a .354 AVG in 48 at bats.
The Friars’ pitching staff is rounded out by Elysia Cunnigan ’23 (0.00 ERA in 2.2 innings in 2021), Gianna Magrino ’23 (1.45 ERA and 466 strikeouts in high school), and Jessica Walter ’25 (0.96 ERA in 95.1 high school innings in 2021). All three hope to be decent contributors this season.
In addition to Alvarez, PC hitting is led by dual threat pitcher/outfielder Cunnigan (.297 AVG in 2021), infielder Jessica Tomaso ’22 (.281 AVG and 13 walks in 2021), catcher Lyndsey Evix ’24 (.279 AVG in 2021), and infielder Madi Traver ’22 (11 runs batted in in 2021). In addition, there are six incoming freshmen hoping to contribute to the Friars’ success in 2022.
The softball team will play 51 games this season, far more than the 19 they played last year. They begin the season with three tournaments.
Beginning on Friday, Feb. 18, they have the Elon Softball Phoenix Invitational where they travel to Elon, NC to play Elon University, Morgan State University, and University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Next, they take on the University of Santa Barbara Invitational, where they travel to Santa Barbara, CA to play Idaho State University, University of California Santa Barbara, and Boise State University.
The third tournament to begin the season is the Demarini Tiger Clash, which takes place in Towson, MD. The Friars face off against Coppin State University, Towson University, and Columbia University. Coach Karwoski expressed her and the team’s excitement at engaging in these three tournaments to start their season off strong.
Playing against different competitors who they would not normally face will help PC grow as a team and get some competitive games in to prepare for when Big East conference play begins.
The Big East looks to be full of competition as always, with teams like Creighton University (4-0 in 2022) and Butler University (4-2 in 2022) already kicking off their seasons in the win column.
Last year, PC had an off year in the conference, going 4-13-1 in conference play and 5-16-1 overall. DePaul University (13-1 in Big East, 25-11 overall) and Villanova University (15-2 in Big East, 37-15 overall) dominated the conference in 2021. Providence College looks to bounce back in 2022 as they maintain numerous returners and welcome new talent.
Coach Karwoski and The Cowl encourage students to come out and watch the team play as they make a run for the Big East conference championship.
Karwoski emphasizes, “We are just going to be fun to watch this year. We have a lot of home games and a lot of options in our lineup, with some very competitive games. We have plenty of opportunities to make a run for the conference championship.” The Providence College Softball Team plays their first home game of the season at Glay Field on Wednesday, Mar. 2 against Boston College.