Highlanders have successful softball season Seniors step up, young players contribute
The 2014 West Milford softball team was led by its seniors but had much talent in the younger players.
BY JOSH LASHLEY WEST MILFORD — Many times, a team that features a lot of new faces to the varsity level plays with a sense of nervousness and apprehension during the course of a given season. Let’s just say that that wasn’t a big problem for the West Milford High School softball program this spring.The Highlanders finished the season with an overall record of 16-7 and they advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North I Group III Sectional Tournament before losing to Sparta.“We were young in spots this season, many players never played on a varsity level before,” West Milford head coach Nicole Gwinnett said. “This season’s main focus was work hard, work as a team. The first game that sticks out is the third game of the season against Fair Lawn. We lost 3-2 in 10 innings, but our team became a ‘team.’“The game that got us rolling was Lakeland (a 16-6 victory) at the Darlene Dondero Tournament. We just came off two tough loses against Wayne Hills and Passaic Valley, both 2-1 games. We were 2-3 going into Lakeland. That was the turning point of the season."Gwinnett mentioned some of the great leadership that was provided by veteran student-athletes on the roster this year.“Victoria Torp, Meghan Szymansky and Mackenzie Porch were captains and leaders, the heart of the team,” Gwinnett said. “They were determined to make us the better each game and were role models for the younger players.“There are quite a few (players who continually improved) this year, we had no set lineup or positions set going into the first game. Each practice, we evaluated players and each game the seniors gave it their all and even though they have played on the varsity level before, they got better as the season went on. Taylor Messler was a great surprise. She led the team in batting average and stepped up on many games. Freshmen Jessica Utter and Paige Masiello, sophomores Peyton Porch, Alex Fiorenza and Erin Carter and juniors Breanna Csakvary and Samantha Mickens (all made noteworthy contributions this season).”The spring of 2015 could prove to be successful for the Highlanders.“We are young and have many players who have experience (returning to the team next year),” Gwinnett said