Looking ahead for Brandeis Baseball and Softball
As the spring season approaches, the captains from Brandeis Baseball and Softball prepare the mindset and reflect on what to improve
The Judges ended the 2022 season with an 18-16 overall record, and a 6-10 University Athletic Association conference record. Although having strong performances at the Stein Diamond, the Judges struggled to get much-needed wins in their opponent’s home territory. Going 2-9 away compared to 15-6 at home, the Judges ended their first full season since 2019 on a high note with a winning record and multiple UAA honors.
Looking ahead at the upcoming season, the captains are excited to see what’s to come after the fall pre-season and the start of spring practices. Both old and new talent is present, as many of the starters from last season are seen through the captains and the upperclassmen. The team will welcome the return of three graduate students: Christian Petrisko M.A. ’23, Marc Maestri M.A. ’23, and Gavin Dauer M.A. ’23. Using up their extra years of eligibility, they will be a useful veteran presence to the pitching unit. With 13 first-years stepping in for the 11 senior/graduate players who left the team, the line-up will feature a lot of newcomers in the upcoming games. Captains Steve Simon ’23, Maestri, and Sam Nugent ’23 share their thoughts on what’s to come and their goals for the team.
Steve Simon (RF) on what he’s looking forward to and the class of ’26:
“I’m mostly just looking forward to having one last season with this group before I graduate. Having COVID take out most of my freshman and sophomore season was difficult for a lot of us but having that first full season last year reminded [me] how much fun it is going out and competing for a UAA title.
Our new class is an extremely talented group, and they are going to surprise a lot of people [across] their college careers. Whether it is pitchers or hitters, they all really are great players and are going to be a huge part of our team right away. It’s going to be a really exciting year, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to compete with!”
Marc Maestri (P) on the goals for the team and what to improve:
“The goals for me are simple. I love to win. I was a part of teams here whose job was to rebuild the program’s culture and competitiveness. We were successful with this by becoming a solid northeast team and competing in the UAA. The goals are to sustain and improve on this. With a winning culture developed, we want to be a dominant northeast team and make a run at the UAA.
…We are always looking to improve as pitchers [by] limit[ing] the walks. We need to attack the strike zone and make our opponents earn their baserunners. Between walks and errors, we could have won a handful of more games last year. With the offensive side of the team taking a more small-ball approach, it is even more important for the defensive side to limit the free bases this year.”
Sam Nugent (LF) on improving the team’s defense and excitement for the season:
“So far this winter, there’s been a lot of excitement and high energy. I’m looking forward to the trips to [New York University] and Wash[ington University] this season a lot as it’ll be my first time going to both of these schools.
Last year, a weakness we had was on defense, so we’ll have to improve our fielding this year in order to win a lot of games. The [first-year] class is a great group of kids. There is a lot of talent, and they will get opportunities to prove themselves right away.”
Ending the 2022 season with a winning record of 22-18 overall and 8-12 in the UAA, the Judges are looking to capitalize on their third-place UAA finish this upcoming season. Succeeding both home and away, the Judges finished 9-7 at Marcus Field and 13-11 on the road. However, early losses to the conference leaders Carnegie Mellon and Washington University prevented the team from receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Going into the 2023 season, the team will travel to California to start their season against La Verne, Whittier, and Pomona-Pitzer. Although the Judges will not have any graduate returners, they have a fresh first-year class of seven that will fill the ranks and bring their new perspective to the diamond. With the Judges having five seniors and two grad students graduated last year, the new class will have to step up and fill the shoes as starters. Running 40 games this upcoming season, the Judges will need to utilize their depth to stay consistent throughout the long season. Captains Alex Cohen ’24, Tara Striggow ’23, and Jamie Pippin ’23 look ahead to the season with their young team and excitement for the outcomes to come.
Alex Cohen (P/OF) on what she’s looking for in the upcoming season:
“I’m really looking forward to our California trip. It’s a really fun way to start our season and build our team chemistry. [Our] goals I’d say are to stay focused and be able to adjust or pivot at any point in the game. Something we are always improving on is the mental part of the game and not letting our mistakes affect the next play.
We were a new team in the fall and had a lot of new players so we didn’t know each other as well, but as we are getting to know each other better, the team chemistry has been through the roof which translates on the field.”
Tara Striggow (C) on her goals and the new class of ’26:
“This season I’m really looking forward to seeing how we compete in the UAA. We are traveling to Emory and Case Western and due to COVID, no one on the team has been there before, so it’s a new experience. We finished third last year in the UAA, and we are looking to snag a top two spot this year … I really want to focus on being who we say we are and committing to our values as a team. I think if we do that then the outcome will come with it.
What’s nice about this new class is they are scrappy. They are willing to get in there and fight for a spot which I admire. They also bring a fun energy to the team. This is the first time I’ve been at Brandeis where I feel like everyone is truly invested in softball and wants to succeed. [That being said], we have a pretty young team this year so we are trying to learn how we all play and how that’s going to come together. “
Jamie Pippin (SS/OF) on positives and team growth:
“I’m looking forward to our growth as a team. We are going through a lot of changes this year which naturally brings new challenges. However this team has a lot of grit, and it will be exciting to see how much we’ll be able to accomplish because of that. It’s going to take a minute for everyone to settle in, but once we do I look forward to seeing what we can do.
The first-years are awesome. Aside from the positive vibes they bring to the team, they compete. Each and every one of them is skilled and willing to give it everything they’ve got. I can’t wait to see what they do.”