Picked 8th In Pre-Season Poll, Softball Now 2nd in Big East
Liam Tormey ’22
Before the beginning of the season, the Friar softball team was projected in the 2022 Big East Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll to finish eighth. Currently, they sit in second in the conference at 8-4, only behind the University of Connecticut.
The quick start to the season for the Friars has them at a 21-9 record: 7-1 at Glay Field, 5-3 away from home, and 9-5 on neutral settings.
The season began in the middle of February with the Elon Softball Phoenix Invitational. This consisted of five games for the Friars with contests against Elon University, Morgan State University, and University of Massachusetts Lowell University.
After five games in three days, the Friars came out with a 4-1 record and a nail-biter ending in a 9-7 victory over Morgan State University in eight innings, thanks to four runs in the top of the eighth from Lauren Nunez ’22, Micaela Abbatine ’22GS, and Jacque Harrington ’24.
Next, the Friars traveled to Santa Barbara, CA to compete in the University of California-Santa Barbara Invitational. It became a bit of an eye-opener this weekend for the Friars to know they still needed improvement after a successful first weekend.
With games against Idaho State University, UCSB, and Boise State University, the Friars came away 1-4 on the trip, with the sole victory coming against Idaho State in a 3-1 game.
Things then started to click for the Friars as they won nine of their next 10 games. It began at the DeMarini Tiger Clash in Maryland where the Friars left undefeated. An 18-0 victory in five innings over Coppin State University, followed by wins against Towson University and Columbia University, and topped off with another victory against Coppin State.
Coming back to Rhode Island with a 8-5 record in the beginning of March, the Friars had a lot to be happy about. Right before Big East play was about to begin against Seton Hall University, the Friars headed across town to matchup against Brown University. A 6-1 victory due to six runs in the first inning helped secure the win.
Then came the first game of the Big East against the Pirates, a rude awakening for the Friars, but they did not let it deter them on the road. It opened with a 8-0 loss in six innings on Thursday, March 10, but the rest of the weekend saw the Friars grab the series. 3-1 and 2-1 victories on Friday had the Friars coming back home with a successful weekend.
In games one and two on Friday, Daniela Alvarez ’22 picked up her fifth and sixth win of the season. In game two, Alvarez allowed only two hits and struck out four batters. Alvarez is currently 7-2 in the win-loss column on the year, appearing in 18 games and pitching 69.1 innings with an earned runs average (ERA) of 3.74.
Big East play would be on hold for a few days as the Friars hosted Merrimack College to a double-header for their first home games of the season at Glay Field. Once again, the Friars picked up two more wins on the day, making it their best 20-game start to the season since 2006. That year, the Friars were 16-4 through the first 20 games. This year’s team was 14-6.
Big East play resumed the weekend of March 18 and the Friars hosted St. John’s University. The outcome of the weekend would be similar to the weekend against the Pirates. The Friars dropped the first game 2-1, but then picked up two victories to complete the series victory over the Red Storm.
The following week, the Friars headed down to Kingstown to face the University of Rhode Island where they clawed out a 3-2 victory in eight innings over the Rams. Abbatine brought home the game-winning run with an RBI single in the eighth.
The Friars would travel to Nebraska to face Creighton University that weekend, where they dropped their first series of Big East play, going 1-2 on the weekend.
A bright spot for the Friars this week was newcomer Rachael Petrarca ’25 making the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. Petrarca went 7-12, recording a .583 batting average on the week. She hit her seventh homerun of the season in the victory over the Rams. Petrarca hit three RBIs in the weekend series against Creighton, two of them coming in the 10-7 victory.
Petrarca has started in all 30 games, batting .337 on the year, and she is tied for the team’s lead in hits and home runs at 31 and seven respectively with Harrington.
The final day victory in the series over the Bluejays continued into the home series against Georgetown University. A sweep of the Hoyas this past weekend has put the Friars in second in the conference.
Pitching has been a key element for the Friars this season. Besides Alvarez, Tori Grifone ’24 and Jessica Walter ’25 have been outstanding. Grifone has posted a 2.46 ERA and a 9-5 record on the season in 19 appearances. Walter has a 4-2 record with a 4.52 ERA. There has been a major difference in the Friars’ record to start the season.
Before continuing Big East play against first place UConn on Friday, April 15, the Friars will have a chance to continue their roll with four non-conference games.
Not many people would have expected the Friars to be in the position they are to start conference play, but they have taken on the opportunity and are ready for anything.
Optimism in the Air for Friars Softball
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.