(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) - With the first varsity season for the Carnegie Mellon University softball team now just months away, head coach Monica Harrison is excited to announce the inaugural team of 16 players who undoubtedly impact the University community in many ways. As Harrison began her tenure at Carnegie Mellon last June, she went on a national search to recruit talent for the new program. The inaugural roster will feature three upperclassmen who had the opportunity to spend the fall and spring training with Coach Harrison and 13 recruited freshmen. Players hail from California, Texas, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
"Recruiting for an entire roster of players was a very tall task, but I'm extremely happy with the mix of players I was able to secure," said Harrison. The search for players started at home by fielding tryouts for a club softball team to see what talent was already on campus. From that mix, Harrison was able to ink three current students to the roster. Rising senior Rae Lasko (Diamond Bar, Calif.) will play in the outfield; rising senior Renee Madrigal (Norwalk, Calif.) will play third base and see some time on the mound, and rising sophomore Brittany Pierce (Darien, Conn.) is a utility player who can find time in several positions on the field. "We are very fortunate to have some senior leadership on the team with Rae, Renee, and Brittany. The three of them worked hard all last year to shake the dust off and get ready for this first season," said Harrison.
The new program will have three primary pitchers on the staff – Gwyneth Delacruz (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), Elizabeth "Scotty" McGee (Huntington Beach, Calif.), and Amanda Schwartz (Fairfield, N.J.). "The pitching staff will be facing a tall order in our conference as a solely first-year staff, but I am fully confident that they are ready to step up and produce in the circle," says Harrison of her bullpen talent. "All of the pitchers bring something different to the table so we should have several different looks to throw at batters which will keep them on their toes. We also have two other position players who can come in relief to throw some innings if necessary."
Rounding out the bullpen staff will be three highly recruited catchers – Meghan Holquist (Ellicott City, Md.), Io Jette-Kouri (Sierra Madre, Calif.) and Piper Johnson (Moreno Valley, Calif.). "So much of the game is controlled by what happens at the plate and I'm so excited to have three strong field commanders behind the plate," said Harrison. With a freshmen pitching staff, it was important for Harrison to look for knowledgeable talent behind the plate to control the game on the field. "All three catchers have a high softball IQ. I'm looking forward to having them work with Coach Krysiak as a bullpen staff, as she is very knowledgable as a former D1 catcher which will only make them better," said Harrison.
Returning player Renee Madrigal will be a veteran leading the corners at third base. Freshmen catchers Io Jette-Kouri and Piper Johnson will also see playing time at third base. "It was apparent to me immediately during tryouts on campus that Renee had a hot glove on the corner. Adding versatility with Piper and Io at third only helps fuel the competition for the position," said Harrison. Joining them on the opposite side will be Kyra Musmanno (Princeton Junction, N.J.) and Audrey Pederson (Bedford, N.H.). "Kyra and Audrey are both very skilled at first base. Audrey was also a gymnast in high school and has extreme control and nimbleness which will serve her well in that position," added Harrison.
The middle of the infield will feature freshmen Megan Hu (Katy, Texas), Audra Scheinman (Falls Church, Va.) and Emily Song (Mount Arlington, N.J.). "The middle infielders are very talented. There is a lot of speed across the three of them which gives them lots of range to cover the middle. There will be a fun battle to watch between Megan and Audra at the shortstop position." Rising sophomore Brittany Pierce will find some time at second base with Emily Song.
The outfield will gain some great leadership with rising senior Rae Lasko at the helm. She will be joined by freshman Summer Faille (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Kyra Musmanno, Emily Song, and rising sophomore Brittany Pierce. "When recruiting this first class, having players who are versatile and can cover multiple positions was very important for me. I am confident with the current mix of players in the outfield that we should be able to help out the pitching staff in covering the gap," noted Harrison. As a former outfielder, Harrison has a very high standard for the outfield staff. "We have a large field for them to cover with a 225-foot fence all around, but I know with the speed, arm, and reads that these girls have that we can cover a lot of that space," said Harrison.
Freshman Jessica Eshenbaugh (Sarver, Pa.) will be the team's DH. "Jess is a local kid that I saw out playing and got chills when I saw her swing a bat. Her power is undeniable," said Harrison. "I'm excited to have her bat in the line-up."
The team will start their non-traditional season in the fall with a round-robin tournament at Geneva College on September 29. They will open the 2019 season over spring break in Florida and open University Athletic Association (UAA) play on the road at Emory University on March 29. "I know this roster is very talented and we are here to compete in a very tough UAA conference independent of any expectations others may have for us," stated Harrison. "We are here to set a standard for years to come with this program and I know this is the right mix of players to lay the foundation for a successful program."