Prep, Mary Louis to duel for borough supremacy

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The 2000 Catholic High School Athletic Association varsity softball season was supposed to start on a high note, with the two best Queens teams from last year, St. Francis Prep and The Mary Louis Academy, opening the league slate against one another Tuesday.

Inclimate weather put off much-anticipated game for 24 hours. The two teams played Wednesday, with St. Francis Prep coming out on top, 2-1.

St. Francis Prep coach Anne Marie Rich, now in her fifth year with the Terriers, guided her team to the semifinals last year before losing to Fontbonne Hall. The team finished with the Queens title and a record of 14-2, its only two losses coming against Fontbonne Hall and The Mary Louis Academy.

But most of the players from last year's team are gone. Six starters graduated, with only Meghan-Ann Collins, Allison Doherty, Kristy Kiernan and Catherine Zacchea back. Collins will play second base, with Kiernan at third and Zacchea at first. Doherty will be the team's ace on the mound.

The rest of the team is up from the junior varsity, except two players the coach has called up from the freshman level, outfielder Michelle Guitierrez and all-purpose player Kristen McEvitt.

"We're strong," Rich said of her team. "We look solid, but time will tell. We have a good foundation and I think we'll be OK."

Rich is sure her team will be competitive, but she is not sure how dominant the Terriers can be. Though the team has beaten Public School Athletic League power Cardozo and Francis Lewis in the preseason, the CHSAA offers a tough assignment every game.

"Mary Louis should be excellent, but you can't count out Stella Maris or Christ the King," Rich said.

The Hilltoppers are in much the same position as their rivals this season. Coach Rich Borawski, who led the team to the finals last year, is no longer with the team, now coaching at St. Joseph's College. He hands the reigns over to three-year junior varsity assistant Steve Contino.

Contino is returning only four starters, including catcher Jenny Campuzano, centerfielder Roseann Agate, all-purpose player Lizzie Wenzel and shortstop Kristyn DeJiovine, who is moving over from third base where she played last year.

A season ago the Hilltoppers went all the way to the CHSAA championship game before falling to St. Joseph's by the Sea. The team finished with a 20-4 record, splitting its season series with cross-town rivals St. Francis Prep.

"I think I have a very good team," Contino said. "I think we'll be very competitive and we'll surprise a few people."

Veterans Kim Glauner and Susan Posner will anchor the team on the mound, but the team will rely on a lot of juniors up from the junior varsity. Contino said he coached this same group of seniors when they were on the junior varsity two years ago, a team that won the city championship.

"We should be right there, if we stay healthy and work hard," Contino said. "I tell them all the time, pitching and defense wins games."

The team lost its last preseason game Monday to St. Anthony's, 2-1, before facing St. Francis on Tuesday. Contino, however, did not seem to mind the tough start.

"They throw me right into the fire," he said. "But I think we'll be OK."

The CHSAA Queens softball division also includes Christ the King, coached by Tommy Black, St. John's Prep, coached by Donna Castillo, Stella Maris, coached by Tommy Landano and St. Agnes, headed by Fran Leary.

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