By Brad Spencer
Technically, Mike Marrese is Fenwick's new softball coach but he's not new to the program or to the diamond.
Marrese served as an assistant coach at Fenwick for three seasons, and with last year's departure of Jen Butler, he enters his 24th year coaching the sport as the team's skipper. This couldn't be a better team for Marrese to be taking over, considering the Friars and the coach have something in common: Experience. Fenwick returns 15 players from last season's 19-15 team, 10 of which are seniors. Prior to coaching at Fenwick, Marrese spent four years as the head coach at Resurrection.
Marrese will navigate through the steep competition of the East Suburban Catholic Conference with returning starters Ashley Parenti (junior, shortstop), Jess Mrozek (junior, pitcher/third baseman), Jenna Cairo (junior, centerfielder), Maggie Horn (junior, first baseman), Marisa Wakely (senior, catcher) and Liv Soja (senior, second baseman/pitcher).
Senior leadership is something the Friars has plenty of this season with the return of Sam Tartaglia (third baseman), Sage Juveland (outfielder), Mary Grace Kenny (catcher/first baseman), Michaella Wright (second baseman), Giovanna Zito (outfielder), Deirdre Haefner (utility player), Elizabeth Nettleton (outfielder), and Angie Fuentes (outfielder).
Newcomers expected to make an impact include Nicole Tristano (junior, outfielder), Michelle Lang (junior, outfielder) and Michaela Monaco (junior, infielder/catcher).
Mrozek is expected to take the mound for the Friars on a consistent basis, while sophomore Val Perrelli and Soja will serve as strong relievers.
Marrese didn't mince words when he said the goal is to improve on last season's record, which included an 8-11 mark in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.
"The conference will be very competitive this year, every team has improved," he said. "There will be no easy games. There is no clear cut favorite."
The Friars are scheduled to host a doubleheader against Maine West on March 23 at the Dominican Priory in River Forest (11 a.m.). They'll travel to cross-town rival OPRF on April 9 (4:30 p.m.).