Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 03-27-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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14 SPORTS & RECREATION MARCH 27-APRIL 2, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION of the five toughest teams in the state right now. We'll see what happens when we play them." Tuorto will definitely get to see his ballclub in action this week when they host scrimmages against D-II opponents at Notte Park. On Tuesday afternoon, they contested Johnston, and after facing Tolman on Thursday, they will play St. Raphael Academy on Friday. Tuorto, who will carry 14 players on his varsity roster, plans to tinker with his defensive alignment throughout the week and look at some players in different positions. "We're mixing some stuff around," he added. "Nothing is set in stone. We have a lot of different options, and we're going to fine-tune some things and see who can play where. The biggest part is we have to be able to hit. We have to be able to stay con- sistent from one through nine in our lineup. And that's what we're trying to preach. It can't be all on one or two girls to carry the load this year – it has to be a team effort where everybody carries it." The four-year starters are senior catcher Jessica Rizzo, right fielder Katie Manchester, and infielders Vanessa Arenas and Ashley Verduchi. Rizzo, who is regarded as one of the state's best catchers, belted nine home runs last season and earned Second- Team All-State honors, and she and Manchester are expected to collect their 100th career hits sometime dur- ing the first few weeks of the season. The Cougars' three-year starters are senior shortstop Destiny Gregson, junior ace pitcher Hannah Doorley, junior center fielder Ashley D'Ambra, and junior left fielder Mary Catherine Fornaro. While Verduchi will be back at second base and Rizzo, Manchester Doorley, Gregson, and D'Ambra are also returning to their positions, Arenas might move across the dia- mond from third to first base, and Fornaro, who is the Cougars' most versatile player, could also see action at third base, second base, and on the mound. "Pitching goes a long way in this game as we know," added Tuorto. "If you have a good pitcher and you play solid defense, you're going to do very well, and hopefully we have that this year. Defensively, we're usually very strong, and we have a good two- headed monster on the mound with Doorley and Fornaro, so I'm hoping that they give us the innings and the depth." The rest of the roster also has a great deal of experience, starting with senior Braelyn Beffre, a big bat who's in the mix at first base, and continu- ing with sophomores Amauri English, who can play first, third, and the out- field, and Emma Fuscellaro, who will be playing in left field should Fornaro move elsewhere. Three more sophomores are Giana Fitzpatrick, who adds depth as catcher, and Hailey Beffre and Corina Haddock, who are infielders, and freshman Francesca Albanese could also be the Cougars' top courtesy run- ner off the bench. "If you're on my bench, I want you to get in and play," said Tuorto. "At some point, these girls are going to play. Everybody has a role in our pro- gram, whether you're a senior who's a four-year starter or someone who's going to be my courtesy runner or my big-inning bat late in a game." Like the rest of the state, the Cougars began their full-squad workouts last week, and Tuorto was pleased with his squad's overall efforts, which included their play during an intrasquad scrimmage last Thursday that he labeled as "fantas- tic." "We're still far from midseason form, but it's late March and we're in a really good spot right now," he added. "It's exciting to get back to work and see where you were after a long layoff from last season. And you can see the level of maturity has risen from year to year, to the point where these girls know each other like the back of their hand. "They're playing for each other. The chemistry has already been built. You're talking about girls who forego their Friday nights during their senior year of high school to work out at captains' practices. That goes a long way to building that camaraderie and that chemistry, and you got to tip your hat to the girls for wanting to work hard and wanting to be success- ful." The Cougars will kick off their season next Tuesday, April 2, at 4 p.m. when they visit Lincoln at the Saylesville Elementary School com- plex. Three days later, they will host La Salle at Notte Park, and the follow- ing week, they will visit Mount Saint Charles and Chariho. "The beauty is we get to play those three teams in our subdivision right off the bat," said Tuorto. "If we can be 3-0 and 2-1 going into our game against Chariho, that will give us some confidence. I don't want to do what we did in the past couple of years and start off slow. I want to get off to a fast start this year." SOFTBALL From Page 13 BREEZE PHOTO BY ERIC BENEVIDES North Providence High senior shortstop DESTINY GREGSON is returning to the Cougars' infield this season. 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