Sophomore Star Salzano Showing Her Versatility As PDS Softball Adjusting to Challenging Schedule
IN CONTACT: Princeton Day School softball player Adriana Salzano hits the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore star Salzano had a single and a double and also helped with the pitching duties as PDS fell 17-2 to Ewing. The Panthers, now 3-6, play at Somerville on May 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Undeterred by gusting winds last Wednesday afternoon making it feel like the low 40s, Adriana Salzano was in the heat of the action for the Princeton Day School softball team as it hosted Ewing.
Batting leadoff for PDS, sophomore standout Salzano legged out an infield single in the first inning and lashed a double to the right field fence in the bottom of the third.
Starting at shortstop in the field, Salzano came on to pitch in relief of starter Colleen Mayer. Salzano’s efforts, though, went for naught as PDS fell 17-2.
While co-captain Salzano was disappointed by the result, she and fellow sophomore and co-captain Mayer know they have to keep encouraging their teammates.
“She and I stepped up from day one as freshmen; we look to take the lead because we are the only two travel players on the team,” said Salzano, who plays for the TNT softball program. “We just want to lead by example. We teach them about the game but have fun at the same time.”
Salzano had fun with the bat against Ewing. “I am never thinking home run, I am thinking base hit, base hit and then from there, what can I do,” said Salzano. “I look where the fielders are. I always look to place the ball up at bat. I have been taught from day one, hustle everything out because you never know. I think I am hitting in the .800s right now. I am looking to improve every year. To improve from last year is a tough job because I hit over .700. It is tough to improve from that but that is what I am going to focus on right now.”
While Salzano has been pressed into pitching duties along with Mayer as the team does not have an ace, she is doing her best to contribute in the circle.
“I just try to throw strikes,” said Salzano. “I do what I can and throw as a hard as I can.”
Salzano’s versatility extends far beyond the diamond as she stars for the PDS girls’ soccer team in the fall and also plays for a travel program in that sport.
“That is very hard to juggle, I train very hard on both sports,” said Salzano, noting that she has received interest from Division I college soccer programs. “I really can’t choose between the sports, I love them both the same. Soccer is a lot of agility and a lot of running. You train with weights for softball, you train with weights for soccer, and it is very different. At the end of the day, I do believe both can correlate off each other.”
With PDS off to a 3-6 start, Salzano believes the team is making progress despite facing a challenging schedule this spring.
“It is just take it day by day, practice by practice, we definitely want to improve by the end of the season,” said Salzano. “We want to be better overall from last year to this year. We don’t focus on the record from last year because we have more games this year. We are playing public schools now so that is a big change for us. The goal is to improve even more.”
PDS head coach Angela Adams credits Salzano with bringing a special focus to the program.
“I don’t have enough good things to say about her, she is doing a lot of everything,” said Adams of Salzano. “We rely a lot on her bat, her pitching, and her leadership. She is the energy and the heart of the team.”
The willingness of Salzano and Mayer to handle the pitching duties has helped hold the team together.
“They are not pitchers; they are athletes; they learned it last year and have been carrying the team since then,” said Adams. “I have a pitcher coming in and that will give them a break. Hopefully next year, they wouldn’t have to do too much of that.”
Joining the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) has been challenging for a shorthanded PDS squad.
“It is a lot more difficult schedule, we are now playing the public schools,” said Adams. “They have more students, they have more travel players. We only have 10 players this year, our numbers are low. We are having trouble with that. Injuries have prevented us from playing some games. It is hard playing with 10.”
A pair of juniors, Claire Meehan and Nora Appleby, have stepped up to help the Panthers navigate that schedule.
“I did have a transfer from Notre Dame, Claire, my centerfielder,” said Adams. “She has been a good help so far behind the plate too — she has been catching going back and forth. Nora has done a great job, she is still learning behind the plate. She really picked it up last year. Her bat has come alive this year.”
With the Panthers opting not to enter any postseason tournaments due to the lack of depth, Adams is looking for her players to keep working on the basics down the home stretch.
“It is just work on fundamentals,” said Adams, whose team plays at Somerville on May 9. “We hope to get more players next year and hopefully go from there and see where we get.”
In Salzano’s view, that approach is paying dividends. “Every day we definitely see improvement,” said Salzano. “As a captain, you feel like you are doing your job when you step out there. It is very nice to see.”