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Barbaro leads team with renewed gusto

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Following a productive first season behind the plate, Stephanie Barbaro expected more of herself as an upper classman.

“You want to step up during your second year,” the Mary Louis junior said. “You think as a sophomore you learn the ropes. Junior year you have to make sure you teach the younger girls the ropes and make sure you are a good backup for your seniors.”

Barbaro, who took over for four-year starter Danielle Marino, worked tirelessly in the softball offseason with her teammates and head Coach Ginny Peiser on everything from hitting to arm strength to footwork behind the plate. One of the biggest things was getting down quicker to block balls in front of the plate and keep them from the backstop.

“She worked all winter on that in the cages with us,” third baseman and close friend Shannon Minihane said. “That’s what she spent most of her time doing because she wasn’t happy with it last year.”

The improvement has led to greater confidence and results behind the dish, making her one of the city’s top defensive catchers. Barbaro has become more aggressive throwing from her knees to first base to keep a leading or leaning runner honest and is usually on the money on throws to second for a Mary Louis team ranking No. 8 in the city by the New York Post.

Her arm and leg strength have shortened the time it takes for the ball to leave her glove and get to a base. Barbaro has also grown more comfortable catching ace Rebecca Warne and knew freshman windmiller Nicole Hubert before she came to Mary Louis.

“She had everything,” Peiser said. “It was just a matter of going from where she was to improving, from five or six on a scale of 10 to getting closer to the 10 side. She’s become what we asked her to be last year, more of a field general or really taking charge of not only the girls [in the circle], but the entire infield.”

Barbaro’s success hasn’t just been limited to the defensive side of the ball. The lefty has been one of TMLA’s most consistent hitters, batting in the No. 2 spot. She was 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI in a win over Christ the King in the quarterfinals and had a 3-for-3 day with a career-high six RBIs against the Royals in the regular season.

“Starting off the season like that is always great, but my idea was just to make sure you stick to it, don’t slack off just because I had that one big game,” Barbaro said.

It’s been a season of them for her and it has Peiser not only excited for the rest of this season, but the next. Barbaro hasn’t talked much about how much the offseason work has helped, but those around her have certainly noticed.

“She didn’t say it, but I said it to her,” Minihane said. “I went up to her and said, ‘This is all your hard work paying off.’”

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