From left, St. Lucy’s softball standouts Laura Swan, Danielle O’Toole, Danielle Mavridis and Brandi Harkness are hoping for a big finish to their senior seasons. (Keith Birmingham / Staff Photographer)
By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
The St. Lucy’s Priory softball foursome of Danielle O’Toole, Brandi Harkness, Danielle Mavridis and Laura Swan have gotten just about everything they’ve wanted out of their athletic careers. But something’s still missing.
Actually, two things. The first is a Sierra League championship and the second is a CIF championship. Beginning Friday, the quartet that has played together for the past 3 1/2 seasons will start a quest for championship glory when they and the rest of the Regents host South Hills in the Sierra League opener for both teams.
“Since this is our last run, it’s kind of upsetting and bittersweet,” O’Toole said. “It’s the last chance we have for a CIF title. The last chance we have for a league title. It’s probably the last chance for the school for a while to make something really big of the program.”
O’Toole and her three senior teammates who have been fixtures at their respective positions since their freshman seasons all will be playing at the next level at this time next year. Meanwhile, the next generation of St. Lucy’s softball hopefuls will have the difficult task of carrying on. (To continue click thread)
O’Toole, a dominating 5-foot-9 pitcher, give St. Lucy’s the all-important standout arm in the circle that’s needed for softball success. She will play next season at San Diego State.
Harkness, who plays third base, leads the team in RBIs and will play at
St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia next year. Mavridis leads the team in batting average and combines with Swan to give the Regents an excellent tandem up the middle at second base and shortstop. Mavridis will play at University of San Diego next season while Swan is headed to the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“I agree, these girls help equip us with what we should have to be successful,”
St. Lucy’s coach Ryan Nuveman said. “They’ve been with me since I’ve started here. It’s special. I’ve seen them grow into quite-capable players. Basically, they’ve held down these spots. They’ve been our starting third base, shortstop, second base and pitcher for three years and that’s rare. There’s only been slight changes in their spots in the order, but no change in their spots in the field.
“I don’t know how much more they could mean to me than that. I know I can count on them. They’re the same four that collectively as a group of four I can count on one hand the number of practices all four have missed combined since their freshman year.”
As good as the Regents are, nothing will come easily the rest of the way.
The Sierra League race figures to be another battle royale with five of the teams entering league play with winning records.
Last season, St. Lucy’s finished third behind Chino Hills and South Hills, and both of those teams look ready to make another run. Then there’s Charter Oak, which has scored the most runs of any team in the league season to date.
“My goal personally, and I know for Mav, Brandi and Laura, all of us want to win league first (before the playoffs),” O’Toole said. “That’s our big thing, we have to win league first. I’ve wanted to win league since freshman year and this is the only year that we actually have a really a good chance.
“The game is all mental for my team. We all have the physical ability and skills, so it’s all mental. I think South Hills is very beatable. Chino Hills is going to be a harder game to play, but I think we can also win.”
Part of what has the Regents believing they can do more damage in league this year than last year’s third-place finish is the postseason success the team had once the playoffs started. St. Lucy’s won three playoff games, two of them by 1-0 scores, before falling in the quarterfinals.
For a program that needed a wild-card berth just to make last year’s postseason, the strong showing has carried over into this year as evidenced by an 11-3 start.
With O’Toole in the circle and her trusty, longtime teammates behind her in the infield, there’s no telling what accolades the twilight of their stellar prep careers might bring.
“We want to prove to everybody we’re not just a team that got lucky last year,” O’Toole said. “It’s really the year for us.”
It starts Friday.