by Tom Utescher

Mount St. Joseph softball team captain Maeve Elliot (center) and the Magic’s new coaches, Jen Carlo and Bill Thompson. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Last week’s rains made softball fields soggy for the official start of the PIAA season on Friday, so instead of launching their 2011 campaign against league rival Villa Maria, the Mount St. Joseph Academy Magic bundled up for a practice session under the guidance of their new team coaches, Bill Thompson and Jen Carlo.

Thompson has been involved in the sport for decades, and was responsible for bringing a pro softball team, the Philadelphia Force, to play in the Allentown area. A Northeast Philly guy who attended Archbishop Ryan High School, he has held a number of coaching positions not far outside the city. He coached another Catholic Academies team, Gwynedd Mercy, for seven years, then headed the programs at Wissahickon High School and, most recently, Montgomery County Community College.

Carlo is a New Jersey native who was a member of the Division I program at Rutgers University, and who played some pro ball, as well. Her most recent coaching job was at Friends Select in center city Philadelphia, and before that she coached both varsity softball and soccer at the Wooster School in Danbury, CT.

Elizabeth Lyon, who was a pitcher at the collegiate level, will help out with the MSJ hurlers.

The new Mount mentors are taking over a program going through a number of personnel changes, since six players, including number one pitcher Alyssa Drummy, graduated from the 2010 squad, which finished 6-9.

Maeve Elliott, the junior captain for the 2011 team, had been pegged for first base, but due to a preseason injury she will play shortstop. The primary pitcher is sophomore Kathryn Cnudde, and to make up the other half of the battery the Magic are currently splitting time between junior Mary Ricchezza and Lauren Stabler, a sophomore from Norwood Fontbonne Academy.

Freshman Samantha Burns is the second pitching option for Mount St. Joe, but normally she’ll be positioned at second base. The rest of the starting line-up that had been penciled in for the scheduled game with Villa consisted of junior first baseman Melissa Williams, sophomore third baseman Margaret Buckley, junior left fielder Breonna Barton, sophomore centerfielder Rachel Dapper, and senior right fielder Heather McFarlane.

Providing depth for the Mounties are senior outfielder Julianne Looby, junior infielder Charlotte Banzhof, and another 11th grader, Lauren McMenamin, who could play second base or right field. Freshman Rebecca Barton is a utility player who also provides the club with a third choice at catcher.

In addition to their Catholic Academies rivals, the Magic’s 2011 schedule includes non-league opponents such as Archbishop Ryan, Wissahickon High School, Archbishop Wood, and Allentown Central Catholic.