LAKEWOOD,NJ-Nicole Degenhardt, the head coach of the Georgian Court University softball team, a Division II progam in Lakewood, New Jersey has had a busy winter and it’s paying off.
This year, the Lions are off to a 22-5 start and for the first time in 9 years, the team broke into the Division II top-25, according to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II.
Degenhardt’s aggressive recruiting effort has led her team from winning just seven games all season in her first year as head coach in 2016 to now being in position for a possible bid to this year’s NCAA Division II Regionals.
GCU’s lineup is powered by hard hitters like Samantha Reilly, an All-American catcher batting .405 and leading the team with 10 home runs. In a Mantle-Maris like setting, Reilly is trailed by firstbasemen Marissa Trezza who is batting .354 with 9 home runs. Combined, they have 64 RBI’s this season, nearly half of the team’s total rbi production.
On the mound, Mikayla Gilbert (8-3, 1.83 ERA) and Jessica O’niell (8-1, 1.32) have been able to keep runners off base, but not without the help of a solid defense behind them.
GCU has been ruthless against their opponents all season, starting with a 4-1 finish in February in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to a 22-5 record as of Friday, March 29th.
This winter, aside from training hard for their breakout season, the Georgian Court Softball team worked several times each week with younger players in the Ruthless Softball travel program headed by three-time Olympian power-hitter Crystl Bustos where Degenhardt is also a coach.
Trezza, Reilly, Kendalia Turner (SS) and others volunteered their nights several times a week after GCU workouts to work with Degenhardt and other college coaches at Ruthless during the program’s winter training season. The New Jersey Ruthless program is run by Alan Proske, COO of Adventure Sports Entertainment and managed by director Laura Borreli (Head Coach Jackson Liberty HS Softball, former coach/player at Monmouth University).
During those sessions, Degenhardt, Trezza, Turner, Reilly and others worked with the younger Ruthless Softball players on the finer points of softball hitting and fielding. Now, they are showing the girls in the program what you can accomplish with hard work and dedication and that they can also deliver on the skills they teach.
Main photo courtesy of Georgian Court University.