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Spring preview: Staples softball to rely on senior core

Published 2:21 pm, Tuesday, April 2, 2013

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  • Staples' Nikki Bukovsky leaps over Westhill's Kate Brainard, during girls softball action in Westport, Conn. on Thursday March 28, 2013. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post
    Staples' Nikki Bukovsky leaps over Westhill's Kate Brainard, during girls softball action in Westport, Conn. on Thursday March 28, 2013. Photo: Christian Abraham

 

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With nine seniors on the roster, the Staples High softball team certainly won't be lacking experience this spring.

After finishing 9-13 last season with a first-round exit in the LL state tournament -- a 17-0 loss to Masuk in five innings -- the Wreckers return talent at a few crucial spots.

"It's great," Staples coach Sara Holland said. "We've got a senior at shortstop, a senior at third and a senior behind the plate. Those are all strong positions and leadership positions that we're going to need."

Captaining the team will three seniors: shortstop Nikki Bukovsky, catcher Maggie Mills and Shannon Connors, who will split time between first base and third base, Holland said.

Holland, now in her second year at the helm, will be relying on her seniors for both their leadership and production on the field.

"We're going to have two freshmen on the field with us," she said. "We're definitely going to need that kind of leadership just to help calm them down."

A four-year starter, Bukovsky recorded a .430 batting average out of the leadoff spot in 2012.

"I definitely want to keep that up," Bukovksy said. "It's very important to me as a batter. I've batted over .400 the past three years."

The three captains, along with junior center fielder Crissy McCarthy, will be Staples' four returning starters.

Freshmen Gabby Perry, a left fielder and third baseman, and Emily Lustvader, a second baseman and first baseman, will both step into the lineup.

Junior Katie Burke will be the Wreckers' primary pitcher.

"She's looking great early," Holland said of Burke. "We're very excited."

Staples opens its season on Thursday at Joel Barlow.

Holland said she's "very excited" about this year's team.

"Expectations are again, make it back to states and compete to be in the FCIACs (playoffs) this year," she said.

Bukovsky said that she's confident coming into the season, perhaps even moreso than last year.

"I definitely feel more confident than the year before because we lost four seniors. We've created a bond with our team," she said. "It's the best we've had in the past four years."

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour

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