The Shenendehowa softball team started its season Monday, and by all appearances, the Plainsmen are looking as strong as ever.
Emilia Peluso drove in three runs with a double and a single, and Mandy Ferro allowed one earned run in five innings pitched to lead five-time defending Section II, Class A champion Shen to an 11-3 Suburban Council victory over Niskayuna.
Niskayuna is a pretty dangerous team, said Shen coach Dan D'Amboise. "They had several runners on base, and we worked out of a couple of jams."
The Plainsmen had hoped to be on the field sooner with a pair of non-league games, but last Friday's rain cancelled those plans.
"We had them on the schedule, we were ready to go. The weather just didn't cooperate," said D'Amboise.
The weather cooperated for Shen's first league game, and the Plainsmen took full advantage. They scored three runs in each of the first two innings to gain a big lead against Niskayuna, and they never looked back.
Ferro " last year's starting centerfielder " helped her own cause with a pair of singles and a double that drove in three runs, and first baseman Jen Mongiovi added a pair of doubles as part of a 13-hit attack for Shen.
"They'd been a big part of our team last year," D'Amboise said of Peluso, Ferro and Mongiovi " who, along with shortstop Barb Shea and second baseman Lauren Lawlor, make up the veteran core of Shen's lineup.
The only question mark for the Plainsmen as they enter the meat of their Suburban Council schedule is how well their pitching will hold up. Ferro and Morgan Sprague are getting their first shot as varsity starters following the graduation of last year's rotation of Angie Sagnelli and K.C. Levin.
"We've got solid pitching," said D'Amboise. "How it develops during the season will determine how well we do at the end."