Coming off a remarkable 53-win season that brought a second NCAA Division II East Super Regional softball title in four years, as well as a third consecutive East Coast Conference crown, Molloy College returns seven position players but is faced with the task of replacing a dynamic pitching duo.
“Last year was special and we all want to get back to that same place,” Lady Lions head coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke said. “Every team is different, so I don’t like to compare from year-to-year. Our conference has improved from top to bottom, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Molloy was picked to finish second behind only LIU Post in the ECC preseason poll, as voted on by the league’s eight head coaches. “Post brought back a lot of players, including a top pitcher,” Cassidy-Lyke said. “But I think we might be surprising.”
Molloy senior shortstop Nicolette Sinagra was selected as the ECC Co-Preseason Player of the Year, sharing the accolade with Post senior shortstop Nicole Hagenah. Sinagra led the Lady Lions in batting average (.367), slugging percentage (.555), hits (84), doubles (13) and triples (9.) She also recorded four home runs, 37 RBIs, 45 runs, and 11 stolen bases. “Nicolette does such a really good job out there,” Cassidy-Lyke said of the 2013 All-ECC Second Team selection and former starter at third base. “She’s our returning leadoff batter and has a lot of speed.”
Junior Brenda Lee follows Sinagra in the lineup and comprises the other half of the middle infield at second base. Cassidy-Lyke said Lee is a great defender and ideal No. 2 hitter thanks to her bunting ability. Junior Victoria Gunnels, a clutch hitter who had the team’s biggest knock of 2013 when she homered against Post to lead a 4-1 win in the ECC title game, starts at first base. She’s a Mepham High School graduate. The starting job at the hot corner is up for grabs after Sinagra’s switch to shortstop and remains unsettled.