The FDR girls softball team does not have it easy. They are playing in Section 9, Class AA, a league that was dominated by sectional dynamo Valley Central up until last season.
It’s a stacked league. Marlboro, John Jay, and Middletown are among the teams that FDR has to beat if they are to make it out of the division and into regional contention.
This season, with an aggressive new coach, the Lady Presidents may have a chance to make something happen.
Sam Mantor is replacing longtime head coach Pat Mosher, who in his tenure led Rhinebeck to two sectional titles, in 2009 and 2008, and three Mid-Hudson Athletic League championships. Mosher will be serving as an assistant coach to Mantor in 2014. Far from being tired of coaching the Lady Presidents, Mosher declined to return because he is in the middle of house hunting in the south, and would not be able to devote his full attentions to Roosevelt.
Mosher leaves the team in good hands: Mantor has been an assistant coach at FDR for three years, and she spent three years coaching the Red Hook modified team.
“I was really excited (to get the position),” Mantor told the Observer. “We kind of had it in the works since last year, which is why I was up to assist. I’ve been coaching most of these girls for the past few years, so I was super excited to take the job and continue the tradition. They know what to expect from me as a coach, and I know how to push them to get the best of their abilities.”
When it comes to the annual graduation hit, the rookie head coach doesn’t face the gargantuan losses that some spring teams are seeing in 2014. FDR will be without only three graduating seniors, two of whom were starters.
“We did lose defensively, considering the three players. But at the same time, we are a very young team and overall, a better team,” said Mantor.
The defensive staff will revolve around the one-two pitching punch of Allie Pritchard — a speed pitcher, who Mantor said can hit 65 miles an hour on a good throw — and Alyssa Pfitscher, who is more of a control pitcher. Pfitscher was a member of the Dutchess Debs softball team, which won the United States Specialty Sports Association 2012 14U World Series.
Shelby Rogers, Maddie Lee and Pritchard will serve as team co-captains in 2014.
Mantor has a lot of faith in her squad. She says that their resiliency and determination are second to none, and that the team has top-flight leadership.
“They are very motivated. When one person is down, they all pick them up. Even though we have three captains on the team, everyone takes on the role of keeping each others’ head up. There’s no kid on the team who I wouldn’t have all the confidence in for coming through with a winning hit,” she added.
As if to prove her point, the team beat Poughkeepsie, 9-0, in their opening game March 31. They then lost to division opponent Cornwall, 4-2, on April 3.