North Kingstown softball coach Adam Laliberte expects his team to make the playoffs this season.
In some years that might be a bold statement but the way Division I is constituted this season it’s not so much.
After realignment 16 of the 17 teams will make the postseason this spring but of those 16 NK figures to be one of the best.
“I expect to be one of those 16 teams,” Laliberte says. “I don’t know what seed we’re going to be. I’d like to be a higher seed but what that means I really don’t know because anybody can beat anybody in D-I softball. I really think we can be one of the best teams in the state.”
So far the Skippers are one of a handful of teams that appears to be ready to challenge Lindsay Mayer and Lincoln – the clear frontrunner – for the Division I crown.
If North is going to get it
done this season it’s going to have come from the bats and in the circle.
“I’m feeling pretty good about our offense,” Laliberte says. “I just want to make sure we’re hitting the ball hard.”
The Skippers have a number of players who can hit for average but few players can knock the cover off the softball like sophomore Natalie Wirth.
Last season Wirth snuck up on a few teams with her slugging ability in her first year with the Skippers but this time around Laliberte doesn’t expect teams to make the same mistake.
“She’s definitely in the conversation [as one of the best hitters in the state],” he says. “She’s not going to surprise anybody this year so she has to make sure she just does a good job when she gets a pitch that she can hit to make the best out of it.”
As for the pitching staff, senior Taylor Butler will be the starter having pitched for NK the last three seasons.
“She’s earned that spot,” Laliberte says. “She’s pitched a lot of varsity innings over the last three years so it’s her job.”
Sophomores Emma Simmons, Rachel Kantor and Wirth can also pitch and give NK options if Butler runs into trouble.
“It’s almost a little bit of an embarrassment of riches in the pitching situation,” Laliberte says. “Based on what I’ve seen I really feel comfortable going to Rachel or Emma or Natalie if we get into a pinch.”
Abby Haberle, Amy Augenstein, Devin Neary, Kristina Rodriguez, Liz Finelli and Heather Jackson also should be strong contributors for North this season.
NK (2-0 D-I) was back in action Wednesday at LaSalle (results unavailable at press time) and will next play Friday at 4 p.m. when it hosts Bay View,