The Montclair State University softball team is only two weeks away from opening day. The Red Hawks will travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to participate in the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic, where they will play their first eight games of the season.
Last season the Red Hawks finished with a 23-18 record and the sixth seed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) playoffs. Montclair State would ultimately lose to Rowan University in the first round.
Head coach Anita Kubicka returns to coach the team for her 33rd season. Kubicka is top 10 in both all-time wins and winning percentages for active Division III coaches. Kubicka spoke on what it’s been like to coach for so long.
“The goal is always the same, the goal is to play into tournament time and get to the national championship,” Kubicka said. “In my career, we’ve been there multiple times and had a second-place finish and a third-place finish. That’s what the goal is and it’s not been easy to get there. We play in a very competitive conference and region. That’s what you have to do, win the conference, win the region, and win a super region in order to get to the final eight in the country. Through the years I’ve been able to bring in some very good student-athletes, were a two-time award winner for GPA so we do very well in the classroom along with on the field. It’s about time we make some noise in the conference again.”
Montclair State is certainly equipped to make noise this season. The roster has a unique blend of veteran leadership and youthful energy and is the largest that Kubicka has ever worked with. Kubicka spoke on the potential advantages that a large roster can bring.
“I think you are able to push each other to a higher level in each position,” Kubicka said. “I think you are able to do intra-squad scrimmages with more competition than just nine people out on a field. I think pitchers work harder. I think hitters are working harder to master their craft.”
One reason for the oversized roster numbers is the large influx of freshmen. With such a large group of underclassmen, the importance of a leader is amplified. Kubicka referenced multiple returning players that have stepped up as team leaders.
“I have a player, [senior infielder] Jenna Meluso who graduates in three years and can still play another three years due to NCAA covid regulations. She’s furthering her education in order to compete and play a full year of softball and its people that have had the experience of being around the program that I think will help the younger players in their pursuit of excellence on the field.”
Alyssa Borozan, who is a fifth-year utility player for the Red Hawks and transferred in, is back and can be another leader of the team according to Kubicka. She also had a shortened season in 2021 and then proved herself in 2022, which helped to get her on the all-conference team last season. Kubicka is looking forward to seeing her again this season and stated how important that kind of leadership means for the team. It can set a tone for where the softball team should be.
Kubicka also referenced junior pitcher Stephanie Seretis, junior outfielder Kayla Cosentino, senior pitcher Ali Cavallaro, and graduate student infielder Amber Reed as players who have taken over the roles of team leaders.
The Red Hawks open their season on March 6th against Regis College. This marks the beginning of a long season that stretches all the way till May. Kubicka spoke on the season’s goals.
“The team’s mantra is “Play into May”,” Kubicka said. “You want to be able to be a contender in the conference. You have games that are going to be played that are learning experiences for our youth and opportunity for our true leaders, whether you’re a freshman, senior, or super senior to stand up and be the best you can be to help this team move forward. I think you have to actually do the work on the field and I think we’ve been putting some solid work in. I’m a competitor, I want to be in the conference tournament, I want to be in the conference finals, I want to win.”