Led by Freshman Standouts Salzano, Mayer, PDS Softball Produced Winning Campaign
A-PLUS: Princeton Day School softball player Adriana Salzano fires a throw from third base in a game this season. Freshman star and team co-captain Salzano enjoyed a superb debut season, helping the Panthers go 5-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Angela Parascando focused on the basics when she finally got to guide the Princeton Day School softball team this spring after the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic.
“During practice, we gave them a routine that I have been drilling into them for the four years that I have been here,” said PDS head coach Parascando, who served as an assistant coach for the program in 2018 and 2019 before taking the helm last year.
“Those are all of the fundamental drills that they need to have in games, basic catching and throwing. They are very well versed now. They didn’t have structure and organization and now that they have that, they are more confident on what they are doing and confidence goes a long way. They need to be confident before they can step out on the field and perform well.”
That confidence showed as PDS posted a 5-4 record this spring, ending the season on a high note with a 15-5 win over Rutgers Prep on May 25.
“I thought it was a pretty competitive game for us; being that it was their last game, they really wanted to win it after their Senior Day game didn’t go so well [a 19-4 loss to Gill St. Bernard’s on May 24],” said Parascando.
“It was a good competitive match up until the end when we pulled ahead. For the first four or five innings we were pretty evenly matched. It was a great win, they definitely felt good after that one.”
Parascando felt very good about the play of her two freshman standouts, Adriana Salzano and Colleen Mayer, who shared pitching duties, sparked the PDS batting attack, and starred in the infield when they weren’t in the circle.
“They were a big part of our success; neither one of them was a pitcher but they took some lessons from me early on and literally just stepped up to the plate,” said Parascando.
“They were throwing strikes and that is all I could ask them to do. Adriana hit .700, she was incredible. I have just never seen a player with her attitude, determination and willingness to want to be out on that field. Colleen contributed a lot to the team with her batting average and her pitching. She was just above .500. Their combined offense and defense really helped this team grow.”
Salzano and Mayer showed growth as leaders, serving as team captains, a rare honor for freshmen.
“Despite the fact that those two are freshmen, the girls really looked up to them,” said Parascando.
“Their teammates recognized that they are both leaders, not because of the fact that they are great players but because they can trust them enough to go up and ask them how can I be better. They spent their time working with these girls before practice, helping them with things they would like to be better at. I couldn’t ask for two better freshmen, I expect really good things from them.”
PDS got a really good
contribution from the squad’s two seniors, Abby Weinstein and Hannah Choe.
“Abby played all four years to keep the program going, she was a dedicated player,” said Parascando of Weinstein who served as a team captain along with Salzano and Mayer.
“Hannah came to the team this year because she knew we were short on players. She filled in the outfield holes that we needed. Progressively during the season I noticed her getting better so it is a shame that I didn’t have her earlier. She would have been better than she was.”
In Parascando’s view, her players collectively got better and better as they soaked in the lessons from the PDS coaching staff.
“It was so nice to get back out there for sure after not having a season last year; my two assistant coaches were a huge help this year,” said Parascando, whose staff included Lyndsey Buckley and Alyssa Falsetti.
“All three of us have different areas of expertise. Lyndsey is really good with the beginners because she is very familiar with coaching 8U. To have her be able to explain things on a beginner level is helpful. Alyssa and I are more 14U, 16U, that high school age, so between the two of us we are able to individually work with them on things. That is one of the reasons for our success.”
The PDS program is poised to enjoy more success in 2022. “I am definitely looking forward to next year,” said Parascando.
“I am working on rebuilding this program and getting it up to what I feel is competitive.”