CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Lesley University Athletics Director and Head Softball Coach, Jen Benway, has announced four returning seniors to be captains for the upcoming 2014 softball season. Sarah Apgar (Andover, N.J.), Allison Fountain (Cheshire, Conn.), Nicole Mercurio (Wakefield, Mass.), and Maria Nazzaro (North Reading, Mass.) will lead the Lynx as they look to claim the fourth New England Collegiate Conference Championship of their careers and the sixth consecutive conference title for the program.
"Sarah, Allison, Nicole, and Maria have grown tremendously throughout their time here at Lesley and we're proud to announce them as captains of our program," said Benway. "They have an unlimited potential and are great competitors who push themselves and their teammates to improve every day. We view captains as an extension of the coaching staff and these four are reliable, accountable leaders who will be an outstanding example of what we want our student-athletes to be both on the field and in the classroom."
"Being named captain is such an honor," said Nazzaro, an NECC All-Conference First Team selection and 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association New-England Region Third Teamer. "It's nice to have your teammates look up to you as a player and as an all-around person. It is awesome to have some of my best friends to share this captainship with as well. We came in together as freshman and now we get the chance to finish strong with one another."
The quartet, who have compiled an 81-39 overall record and three NCAA Tournament appearances in their previous three seasons, have learned from plenty of good leaders in the past that will help them pilot this year's squad.
"Every captain we have had in our three years really pushed for team chemistry and hard work, and that has really worked well for us," said Apgar who was also captain of the Lesley women's soccer and women's basketball teams. "I know we will be pushing for the team to have the same work ethic that the captains we have looked up to pushed us to achieve."
The Lynx will have some important spots to fill in the 2014 season after losing Emily Mangiaratti, Molly Sarson, Rian Powers, and Jessica Guevara to graduation last spring.
"You lose some key contributors every year, but the coaches do a great job recruiting and bringing in girls who will work and play hard," said Nazzaro.
"We want to get going right from the start and we're excited for the new and returning players on our team to jump in and fill some important roles for us," continued Mercurio, a 2013 NECC First Teamer and 2013 NECC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
While the four seniors are fighting to win another NECC title to cap their careers with four straight, they can hold an appreciation for everything they have accomplished up to this point.
"To have won even three straight titles is something I never thought I would experience," described Apgar of Lesley's success, "but it reminds me just how grateful I am to be part of such an incredible program. It is an honor to be part of the seasons we have had, but we can't look past any team on our schedule. We know that it takes complete focus and hard work day in and day out to be successful."
The team has started practice for the spring after completing a successful fall program including a day of competition at Babson College.
"We have had a really encouraging offseason," said Fountain, an NECC All-Conference Second Team honoree last season. "The group of girls we have are hardworking and very determined to make this season one of our best. After having a fall season like we had, it really makes it exciting to get going for real in a few weeks."
The Lynx will kick off their season in sunny Florida with a double-header against Heidelberg University and Cornell College on March 9th as they participate in the Dot Richardson Spring Games.