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Featuring Solid Defense, Potent Hitting, Hun Softball Sweeps Mercersburg In Opener Many coaches believe that defense wins championships and the Hun School softball team is testing that theory this spring. “Our defense has been very solid,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk, whose team went on its annual spring training trip to Florida in mid-March “The hitting has been starting to come around. We have some new, young kids so it is a little bit of a challenge but that is what is all about.” One of those young kids, freshman Lexi Murdock, will be handling the pitching duties for the Raiders along with senior Erin Harrigan.

“For a f re s h m a n, s h e throws very hard. She has a little bit of a control problem but is working hard everyday on it,” said Quirk. “She did some nice things for us in Florida and threw three innings for us in our scrimmage and did well. Erin has some good pitches and she just needs to have confidence out there. We are hoping she really steps it up. I tell both of them I can’t defend a walk, you have got a defense behind you.” Hun will be depending on junior star Gigi Venizelos to be an offensive catalyst. “Gigi is leading off; we are looking for her to get on base every single time,

STARTING WITH A BANG: Hun School softball player Abby Zucatti takes a cut in a game last spring. Junior outfielder Zucatti starred as Hun got its 2019 season started with a bang by sweeping Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 16-0 and 19-4 in a doubleheader last Saturday. The Raiders will look to keep on the winning track as they host Lawrenceville on April 4 and Penn Charter (Pa.) on April 6 before playing at Doane Academy on April 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

whether she walks or hits,” said Quirk of Venizelos, who starred last year as Hun went 10-7 and advanced to the state Prep A title game. “She has done well for us at shortstop; we are looking for some big things from her.” Quirk believes that junior Abby Zucatti, senior Meghan Donohue - O’Keefe, and freshman Nora Shea can also do some good things with the bat. “Abby is batting No. 3 for us and doing a nice job,” said Quirk, whose team displayed a lot of fire power as swept Mercersburg Academy ( Pa.) 16-0 and 19-4 in a doubleheader last Saturday to start the season. “Meghan will bat No. 4 for us and if she stays in the correct batting position, she can hit the ball well. It is not trying to kill it, just making contact. Nora has been doing some hitting for us, she has a nice swing and does a nice job.” O n defens e, Hu n w i l l feature sophomore Hanna Babuschak at catcher, Donohue-O’Keefe at first, freshman Katie Angelini at second, Venizelos at shortstop, and senior MC Shea at third. The outfield will include Zucatti, junior Jackie Drozd, sophomore Kayla Hampton, and sophomore Aimee Millington. In Quirk’s view, her squad has the pieces in place and can have a good season if it plays a sharp brand of ball. “The big thing is that we need to play solid defense and pitchers need need to be strong and t hrow ing strikes,” said Quirk, whose team hosts Lawrenceville on April 4 and Penn Charter (Pa.) on April 6 before playing at Doane Academy on April 8. “I like the way we have been playing and talking, generating plays. Of course we have to score runs, we have to make it happen.” —Bill Alden


Route 206 • Belle Mead

Emphasizing Full Effort, Positive Attitude, Hickey Taking Helm of Hun Girls’ Lacrosse Rachel Hickey is emphasizing a pair of cardinal principles as she takes the helm of the Hun School girls’ lacrosse program. “I ask for two things every single day - I ask them to g ive 10 0 p ercent i n their effort and their attitude because those are two things that each of us can control,”said Hickey, who is succeeding Liz Cook as the head coach of the Raiders. Those lessons were reinforced for Hickey as she competed for the Rutgers University women’s lacrosse team from 2010-13. “Playing at the Division I level, you are pushing every single day; you are going against athletes just as competitive and skilled as you are,” said Hickey. “Having to show up every single day and compete and knowing that if you don’t give your best every day, you are not only giving less to yourself but giving less to you team. At the Division I level, it is all year.” Drawing on that experience, Hickey went into college coaching after graduation, serving as an assistant coach at Kings College from 2013-15, helping the Division III squad bolster its program. “I have been really lucky m y w h o l e l i fe to h av e coaches who gave me great knowledge of the game between high school, club and college,” said Hickey, who starred at Shawnee Hugh before going to Rutgers. “I thought it was a really neat opportunity to go somewhere I can give back to kids who have never played before and that is exactly why I did. Half of my team in college had never touched a stick before. It was really cool.” Hickey enjoyed another co ol exp er ie nce as s h e served as an an assistant for the Wesleyan University women’s lax team from 2015-18. “Under Kim Williams, I was a part of a team that needed a big change in culture,” said Hickey.

“She has the goal to win the national championship. Getting to coach alongside of her and watch someone who is so innately competitive and willing to put the time in to get where she wants to be was really inspiring. I learned so much from her.” After a stint in Hawaii as her husband finished up his Naval duty, the couple retuned to their native New Jersey and Hickey found a position at Hun as assistant director of admission and girls’ lacrosse head coach. “I am doing recruiting in admissions; for me it has always been about the people,” said Hickey. “I genuinely care about the kids and the families. I felt at the high school level I could be really impactful and help the kids get to where they want to be. It is all like the perfect fit, it just makes sense.” As the Raiders went t h roug h t h e pre s e as on, Hickey has worked on helping her players develop greater self belief on the field. “I really want to instill confidence in these girls; I want them to know that they are capable and that it is OK to make mistakes,” said Hickey, whose team lost 14-9 to Hopewell Valley last Monday to fall to 1-2 and hosts Lawrenceville on April 3 and Stuart Country Day on April 5. “I think there are a lot of kids who are afraid to fail. It is OK to fail as long as we learn from what we did wrong.” Hickey has confidence in her attacking unit, which includes senior Lauren Johns, junior transfer Ally Cowan, sophomore Renee Nearing, junior Rose Denommee, junior Emily Albanese, freshm a n C h a r l ot te B e d n a r,

sophomore Nicki Renna, and senior Kira Black. “Lauren Johns is going to be a middie; Ally is new to the program and is a really strong player overall,” said Hickey, who got four goals from Cowan in the loss to HoVal with Renna chipping in three. “Nearing is a good player. Rose is another player who we are excited about, she is more like an inside player, she cuts well and she understand the offense very well. Emily will see time in the midfield. Charlotte doesn’t back down to anything. Kiera cuts really well, she sees the offense well.” The Raider defense led by senior Kendall Nehlig, junior Grace Davis, junior Chessie Ross, senior Olivia McNulty, and sophomore Anna Hyson. “Kendall is the kind of kid who does everything right; she is really aware of the field,” said Hickey. “Grace, Chessie, Olivia, and Anna are also on defense.” Junior transfer goalie Ariel Gold does a lot of things right in the cage. “Ariel is really quick, she is super agile,” said Hickey. “She is small in size so I think a lot of people underestimate her but she moves well in the cage.” As the Raiders have started their 2019 campaign, Hickey is more focused on development than the record. “Even when we win games, I am going to sit back and I want the girls to sit back and say ‘did we give 100 percent effort’ and ‘could we have given a little more out there?’” said Hickey. “We still need to learn from the wins too. If we are just evaluating ourselves off the wins and the losses, we are never to get better and we need to learn every single day.” —Bill Alden

ON THE BALL: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Lauren Johns brings the ball upfield in a game last season. Hun will looking for senior star midfielder Johns to have a big final campaign. The Raiders, who have gotten off to a 1-2 start, hosts Lawrenceville on April 3 and Stuart Country Day on April 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Profile for Witherspoon Media Group

Town Topics Newspaper, April 3  

Witherspoon Media Group

Town Topics Newspaper, April 3  

Witherspoon Media Group