After falling short of a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship by just two games last season, the Fairfield softball team will look to win the championship once again this season. However, like many other teams, the Stags have graduated some teammates who have contributed significantly to the team’s success in the past.

This upcoming spring season, the team will be forced to play without Rae Ball ‘14 who was named MAAC Pitcher of the Week on multiple occasions and at the end of her senior year, went on to be named the MAAC Pitcher of the Year. During her last year with the team, she posted nine consecutive strikeouts against Quinnipiac and finished the season with a 2.96 earned run average. Her talent helped the team finish 8-2 overall in the MAAC.

Recent graduates Kristen Filicia ‘14 and Lauren Liseth’s ‘14 offensive contributions will be ones that the Stags will definitely need to find substitutes for this season. Filicia led the team in hitting, posting a .375 average, placing her third overall in the MAAC. She posted a seven-game hitting streak and finished out her season with nine doubles, four triples and two home runs. On the field, Filicia was just as talented and during her senior season, she recorded zero errors.

Like Ball and Filicia, Liseth will also be greatly missed. The athlete doubled as shortstop and catcher, and as a hitter, she ranked as one of the highest RBI contributors in program history. Liseth drove in 122 of them, which tied her for second place in program history. She also had four home runs, which tied her for first in the program, and she is currently placed second in the program for her 14 triples.

Although overcoming the loss of some extremely talented seniors may be difficult, there are several key players on the team who have been on the team since their freshman year. Their experience and talent will be needed to get the team where they want to be this season.

Senior Sammy Ruffolo has become a vital outfielder for the team. She is the team’s primary centerfielder because of her extraordinary play on the field. Last season, she played in 42 games and had two assists against one error. Ruffolo is one of three seniors expected to lead her team to meet their goals this spring.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Lauren Filicia ‘16 posted 42 hits in the 45 games in which she played. Her .361 batting average placed her fifth in the MAAC, and on the field, she had just two errors in 76 chances. Her talent as a batter and a fielder will be an extraordinary force for competitors to deal with in the spring.

Sophomore Gianna Kinhofer was one of the most successful freshman the program had seen and if she continues the momentum she set last year, she could become one of the most successful athletes in program history. Last season, she played in almost every game, just missing one, and posted a .317 average. She had 19 RBIs and in the final five games of the season, she had three home runs.

With the depth that the Stags already have from past seasons, the upcoming season will be a competitive one, and hopefully, the team will be able to get back the MAAC Championship they fell short of last season. The Stags are scheduled to take on Providence at Towson University for a tournament that begins on Feb. 27.

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