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North Kingstown softball coach Adam Laliberte expects his team to make the playoffs this season.
In some years that might be a bold statement but the way Division I is constituted this season itâ€™s not so much.
After realignment 16 of the 17 teams will make the postseason this spring but of those 16 NK figures to be one of the best.
â€śI expect to be one of those 16 teams,â€ť Laliberte says. â€śI donâ€™t know what seed weâ€™re going to be. Iâ€™d like to be a higher seed but what that means I really donâ€™t know because anybody can beat anybody in D-I softball. I really think we can be one of the best teams in the state.â€ť
So far the Skippers are one of a handful of teams that appears to be ready to challenge Lindsay Mayer and Lincoln â€“ the clear frontrunner â€“ for the Division I crown.
If North is going to get it
done this season itâ€™s going to have come from the bats and in the circle.
â€śIâ€™m feeling pretty good about our offense,â€ť Laliberte says. â€śI just want to make sure weâ€™re hitting the ball hard.â€ť
The Skippers have a number of players who can hit for average but few players can knock the cover off the softball like sophomore Natalie Wirth.
Last season Wirth snuck up on a few teams with her slugging ability in her first year with the Skippers but this time around Laliberte doesnâ€™t expect teams to make the same mistake.
â€śSheâ€™s definitely in the conversation [as one of the best hitters in the state],â€ť he says. â€śSheâ€™s not going to surprise anybody this year so she has to make sure she just does a good job when she gets a pitch that she can hit to make the best out of it.â€ť
As for the pitching staff, senior Taylor Butler will be the starter having pitched for NK the last three seasons.
â€śSheâ€™s earned that spot,â€ť Laliberte says. â€śSheâ€™s pitched a lot of varsity innings over the last three years so itâ€™s her job.â€ť
Sophomores Emma Simmons, Rachel Kantor and Wirth can also pitch and give NK options if Butler runs into trouble.
â€śItâ€™s almost a little bit of an embarrassment of riches in the pitching situation,â€ť Laliberte says. â€śBased on what Iâ€™ve seen I really feel comfortable going to Rachel or Emma or Natalie if we get into a pinch.â€ť
Abby Haberle, Amy Augenstein, Devin Neary, Kristina Rodriguez, Liz Finelli and Heather Jackson also should be strong contributors for North this season.
NK (2-0 D-I) was back in action Wednesday at LaSalle (results unavailable at press time) and will next play Friday at 4 p.m. when it hosts Bay View,