By the numbers, the Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team had a puzzling season last year.
The bottom line is the Bulldogs finished 10-18, which is a subpar season by any measure. In the Metro Suburban Conference, however, RBHS won 7 of 11 games to finish in the upper echelon of the standings. On the flipside, the nonconference record was an abysmal 3-14.
So who are the Bulldogs entering this season?
Fourth-year head coach Doug Schultz is going with a glass-half-full assessment.
“This is the strongest group of 14 players that I have had in my four years of coaching at RB,” Schultz said. “I believe we have the potential to have a great season if the players keep a team-first mentality instead of a me-first one. Every player has the potential to get that big hit or have a defensive gem that can win us a game.”
In recent years, the Bulldogs have graduated prolific hitters and all-conference players like first baseman Kendall Hastings and center fielder Taylor Holin (2016) and catcher Lana Hermann (2015).
While it’s never easy to lose impact players, Schultz envisions a strength in numbers approach by the Bulldogs this spring.
“We have five seniors on the varsity who will lead the team this year,” Schultz said. “We have been very clear that every player has a specific role on this team. No matter what your role is you can have a positive influence on a win or a negative influence on a loss. If we are a united team, I’m confident that we have a chance to compete for a conference title.”
The five aforementioned seniors are third baseman Marissa McDermott, catcher Cameron Shaw, shortstop/pitcher Alivia Ranieri, middle infielder Cam Hamilton and Amanda Martinez.
McDermott batted .440 with 26 RBIs last season, while Amanda Martinez hit .418. Ranieri led the team in pitching with six wins, 95 innings pitched and 65 strikeouts.
Junior pitcher Nora Dachota will also contribute for the Bulldogs.
Although McDermott is the team’s lone returning all-conference player, most of Bulldogs’ top players have played on the varsity for multiple seasons.
Underclassmen such as sophomore second baseman Lauren Lambros, centerfielder Kailyn Ngo and freshman pitcher/outfielder Nadia Ranieri should lengthen the lineup well. Lambros is a good all-around player with a solid bat, while Ngo is a very heady player with outstanding speed. The highly touted Nadia Ranieri lends pitching depth to support her sister, Alivia, and the others in the rotation.
Glenbard South is the favorite to win the Metro Suburban Conference; however, Aurora Central Catholic, Wheaton Academy and RBHS should be in the thick of the conference race.
In addition to conference play, the Bulldogs will take on a series of tough nonconference teams including Class 4A defending state champion Oak Park and River Forest, Fenwick, Nazareth, Lyons Township, York, Shepard, Niles North and Addison Trail.