Holy Cross state champions will return to baseball, softball diamonds with targets on their backs

Fran Phelan Jr. and Holy Cross baseball look to defend their NVL and Class S state titles.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)

The high school spring sports season is supposed to start next Saturday, so I’m going to delve into a little baseball and softball, and I’ll start with Holy Cross.
The Crusader baseball and softball teams claimed Class S hardware in 2017. For softball, it was the third straight state title. For baseball, it was the first championship victory in three tries.

Alexandra Lombardo and Holy Cross softball would love a fourth straight trip to the state
championship game in 2018. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)

Holy Cross baseball is looking to defend the NVL and Class S state championships it earned in 2017. The Crusaders will have to do so with Matt Bonvicini and Adam Razza. Bonvicini is playing baseball at UConn, Razza took on football at Western New England University. They aren’t the only losses for Holy Cross — which also saw big contributors like Nick Hernandez, Chris Flynn and Mike Keating graduate — but it does bring back some solid talent, led by Fran Phelan Jr., Tim Zupkus, Connor Goggin, Will Marshall, Brian Parzyck and Justin Alamo.
Phelan will anchor the pitching staff and the top of the batting order. Zupkus and Goggin are solid players, and Marshall and Parzyck will contribute. All were part of a strong defense last season.
Holy Cross softball is looking at a much different picture. The Crusaders lost All-NVL and All-State pitcher Sarah Lawton to Florida Southwestern State College. A softball team losing its pitcher could prove to be a major problem. Holy Cross also lost Aubry DeFoe, Gabby Goldman and Emma Gargano to graduation.
The Crusaders, however, have some very capable players. There’s Allie and Hannah Brown, Jenna Mowad, Lizzy Diorio, Valerie Nobrega, Carley DeFoe, Nicole Strielkauskas and Alexandra Lombardo. 
All Mowad did was take over at catcher — as a freshman — when Aubry DeFoe couldn’t catch because of an injury. Mowad homered and doubled in the Class S final.
The Browns, Hannah in center field and Allie at shortstop, are dynamic in the middle of the field. All of the returnees have shown they can hit. Brandi McIntosh got some limited time in the circle last season. Strielkauskas pitched as a sophomore, but was hurt last season.
Both Holy Cross state champions have holes to fill, but each team also has plenty of talent. Baseball opens the season at home on April 3 against Seymour. Softball goes to Seymour on April 3 in its season opener.