With new coach, the softball team had been eager to polish the diamond


Evelyn Steele

Angel Cavallaro, Riya Nandakumar, Evelyn Steele Hannah Kates, Caitlin McGuckin (back row) Bella Lynch, Chandler Mitchell, D’Aaliyah Patterson, Kayla Ottaviano, Leah Rinne (front)”

The new softball coach, Rich Gilmore, is a confident man.

  After many years coaching baseball at Westminster Christian School in Miami, Florida and softball at Riverside High School here in New Jersey, Gilmore makes the leap to Eastern, aiming to lead the softball program to success.

  Gilmore knows that coaching is a crucial aspect of any sport.

  “I believe each year as a coach, I have to evaluate not only my players, but myself. I try to add to my skills and continue to learn new things to help improve my practices and my players’ skills,” he said.

Gilmore especially loves the journey that a season provides, where he can see how his players are growing, and personally help them reach their goals.

  “I am hoping to really build that teamwork here at Eastern. If they learn how to work hard, come together, and fight through the hard times, then I will have succeeded in what I am trying to build here.”

  Gilmore is a baseball person at heart, but learning the sport of softball has been a valuable asset for him.

  “The games are quick, intense and you have to be ready for anything,” he said. “Baseball can sometimes be very predictable. Softball, runs can be scored quickly and the pressure is on. I feel if we have the right group of players, we will put pressure on the other teams and force them to make mistakes that we can capitalize on.”

  Hard-working players can make the job of a coach a whole lot easier.

  Senior Chandler Mitchell and junior Hannah Kates will spearhead an Eastern squad ready for battle.

  Mitchell will trot back out to the outfield, entering her final high school season. As a lifetime player of the sport, this season will mean a great deal to her. She hopes to translate that passion into production. Being a speed demon on the bases and swinging a potent bat certainly won’t hurt.

  Mitchell acknowledges that the team lost a lot of talent last year, but she is confident that the underclassmen and remaining upperclassmen, such as herself, can make up for it. She is prepared to be one of the team’s leaders, and her experience puts her in the right position.

  “The past years have taught me that this is a family, and that we win together and lose together,” Mitchell said.

  After high school, Mitchell will attend the University of Hartford to continue her athletic and academic career. But for now, she wants her fellow softball players to do their best and prove to Eastern how good they really are.

  Kates considers herself a utility player, someone who can play any position. Last year, after pinch hitting for varsity, she aims to have a bigger role on the team.

  To contribute, Kates feels that her bat is her biggest asset. Team-wise, she believes that the players themselves will be the main factor of their success.

  “Some of our heavy hitters this year are Kayla Ottaviano and D’Aaliyah Patterson, and Chandler Mitchell, leading off. With the four of us, and of course the rest of the lineup, we will be very successful,” she said.

  Kates has high hopes following the addition of the team’s new head coach.

  “Coach Gilmore brings that intensity to the team that we need,” she said. “With his new perspective, I feel we will do very well.”

  This season will be a test for Gilmore, but it’s one that he can handle.

  “If the team can learn how to work hard, come together, fight through the hard times, then I will have succeeded on what I am trying to build here,” Gilmore said. “The foundation starts with how we approach practices and working to prepare for games. Without that foundation, we will not succeed. Success isn’t always measured in wins, but how we prepare and play.”