NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Softball season forced to take a seat on the bench this spring

The 2022 Northern Essex Community College softball season will end before it began this year. Due to a roster with a small number of players and injuries, fielding a full team will be ineffaceable.

“We had eight young women very interested, but we really need about eleven or twelve to field a team,” Athletic Director Dan Blair said.

The last time NECC was able to field a softball team that played a full season was in 2018. That team finished second place in their division. The 2020 softball season had several talented players and started with promise but was cut short two games into the season by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rookie head coach, Xavier Nunez was looking forward to the task of leading the softball season.” I wanted to begin building a culture in the softball program,” said Nunez. “I am disappointed about not playing but that makes me more excited about playing next year.”

Nunez is an NECC alumni who played baseball for the Knights as a third baseman in 2016 and 2017. In two seasons he batted .383 in 46 games. He currently is also a member of the NECC baseball coaching staff under Jeff Mejia for the last two seasons.

An inability to field a team is an issue that is facing the rest of the conference teams as well.

“We are in the Yankee small college conference for softball and of the six teams in the league only one was able to field a team,” Blair said.

Although the softball program has battled a numbers problem for years there is still reason for optimism for 2023 and beyond. Nunez’s knowledge from playing for and working under Mejia’s coaching staff will give him an insight into how to duplicate the success the baseball team has has had.

“It’s my hope we can retain six or seven of the girls interested and bring in another six or seven for the coming fall and really start building up the program. I would like to see the softball program succeed, we have the resources, we just need the players,” Blair said.

Every other spring sport such as baseball, golf, track and field and esports will all still be participating this spring.