Calhoun bonds with weekend trip


If a season is like a roller coaster, the Calhoun softball team is trending downward in the midst of a three-game conference losing streak that has sunk its record to 7-4 in the Conference 1 standings (8-5 overall) with seven games remaining.

But that’s nothing that a visit to Six Flags can’t fix. Whether it be from the sugar from the fried dough or just pure adrenaline, the Colts will need whatever energy they can muster to stay among the county title contenders. They won all three games at the Williamstown Fred Powell Invitational Tournament last Saturday.

“The point of the trip was for it to kind of give us a little bit of a boost,” said coach Michael Pisano from a crowded coach busliner, fresh off more than a few rides on the tilt-a-whirl. “There's always some way that you can bounce back. We wanted to uplift the team, bring the girls together, and kind of charge us for playoffs as well as the second half of the season.”

To turn its fortunes, Calhoun will lean on Johanna Esposito, who leads the team both with her arm and bat. Her .432 batting average is only slightly ahead of shortstop Gia Pissichio’s of .429. Meanwhile, Esposito has also tossed 82 strikeouts, splitting time in the circle with Gianna Nicastro to form a formidable force.

“Esposito is more of a power pitcher,” Pisano said. “She can get batters out with more or less with just her velocity. Gianna is very crafty and very smart. She knows how to work to the strike zone and how to read particular batters. She's like a scientist when it comes to pitching.”

Gianna Nicastro shares the title of team captain with Gabriella Facciponti. A speedy leadoff hitter, Facciponti uses her legs to cover ground in right field, where a ball is rarely ever out of her reach. Also patrolling the outfield is Ashleigh Coyne, who’s had a flare for the dramatic with her walk-off base hit against Oceanside on March 25.

While there are plenty of players rising through the ranks, such as junior Katlin Theodores and eighth-grader Sophia Nicastro, who is projected to take up and potentially exceed the mantle of her older sister, it’s because of the likes of Esposito, Pisacchio, Nicastro, Facciponti and Coyne that this year is one that the Colts are savoring. With 11 seniors set to graduate, it’s the end of an era.

“This has been the core group for the last four years, and with this group in particular, it's going to be really difficult to see them move on,” Pisano said. “We've had some unbelievable athletes come through here, but this group has been a driving force. I’m so very excited for their success moving forward. They’ve taught me a lot when it comes to patience, encouragement, and even frustration and disappointment. It's like part of your family leaving.”

Starting this week with four games in six days, Calhoun has seven contests left on its schedule before the start of the playoffs. Until then, the Colts will continue to enjoy the ride, whichever way it takes them.