Padua powered its way through a 14-3 season last year (13-2 in the regular season), but the Pandas found themselves on the outside looking in for the late rounds of the state tournament as they fell in the quarterfinal round to rival Ursuline. The Pandas see opportunities for 2017 that they don’t want to miss.
It all begins with a road trip to Newark Charter on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.
“We have some strong girls that came in, some sophomores and juniors that worked really hard over the offseason to make themselves better,” coach Lauren DiSabatino said. “I think you’re going to see a tall Padua team. We have four or five girls that are in that 5-10 and above category, so that’s good for us.”
They certainly have the experience to win their first state title since 2013. Six seniors anchor the roster, including senior hitter Emily Jarome, the defending state player of the year who has committed to play collegiately at Towson University. Her capable teammates include classmates Claire Bisson and Emma Lucey, sophomore Jess Molen and freshman Mackenzie Sobczyk.
Jarome is itching to win a title in her final scholastic season and calls her team “tough” and “consistent.” She likes the mix of age on the roster.
“This year, we have a really great team. We have a lot of younger players, but it’s balanced out by a core of, like, six players who have been here since the beginning,” she said.
That said, the philosophy is to look more short-term, Jarome said. “Do well today, and then after today, we’re going to see what our next goal is.”
Other road contests include Wilmington Charter, Tower Hill (who toppled the Pandas last year) and Archmere, while Wilmington Friends, DMA and Tatnall visit Broom Street. Padua also faces its Catholic Conference foes twice each.
“No one’s ever really an easy stop,” DiSabatino said. “I think when you play a team that’s weaker than you, that’s more of a challenge than playing a team that’s at your same level because you have to be able to keep your game up. Yeah, it’s going to be a long, tough road, but we’re looking forward to it.”