Softball Kicks off Fall Season


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Victoria Sebastian (above) was a Golden Glove recipient last year.

Aphrodite Dimopoulos, Staff Writer

Fall ball is back, and Villanova softball is entering into game play for the second straight season as the defending Big East Champions. This past weekend, the team traveled to Binghamton to play both Buffalo and Binghamton, winning its game against Buffalo but falling short to Binghamton. Looking ahead at the 2022-23 season, the team has to adjust, as it graduated a good amount of its starting lineup, and its roster has shifted to a younger and more inexperienced front. 

This past Saturday, the matchup against Buffalo was played in seven innings, and the Wildcats ultimately won, 4-3. as senior third baseman Chloe Smith hit a walk-off home run to close the game. In the regular season, this milestone would have garnered a lot more attention, but as head coach Bridget Orchard explained, the fall season is more casual.

“In the fall it’s different, because obviously you’re doing substitutions and lineup changes and everybody is playing,” Orchard said. “[Smith’s] hit was an exciting moment, but not as much of a big deal in the grand scheme of things.”

Sunday’s matchup against Binghamton did not fall in the favor of Villanova, as it lost, 3-1. This loss can be attributed to many things, but one key component is the player shift that the softball team is facing. 

“The fall schedule is great because all of the freshmen get to play,” Orchard explained. “We have seven freshmen and one transfer, that means eight new faces. Our team is going to look a little different. It’s exciting. Last year, we graduated some people that have been at their positions for four or five years.”

Angela Giampolo is one of those players. The former second baseman played at her position for five years, adding layers of depth, experience and comfort to the team. But luckily, the squad retained some experience. Senior first baseman Victoria Sebastian is a notable player in terms of her leadership and experience on the team. 

Sebastian was recently awarded the Golden Glove Award for her defensive performance at first base last season. This was the first year that an award of that nature was presented at the collegiate level, making her achievement that much more monumental. This particular achievement has put Sebastian in a new tier on the collegiate level, where she now sits among other winners from major, top Power Five programs. Last season, Sebastian had no errors at first base, a very rare achievement. 

“It’s tough to even take [Victoria] off the field because of the leadership she displays on the field through her communications and her presence,” Orchard said. “For example, when our pitcher struggles, she knows to go over and how to support her. Having [Victoria] on the field is like having another coach on the field, and you don’t realize how valuable that is until she is out there. It is one of those unwritten things that you look at.”

Having Sebastian at first and Smith returning at third, the team had their corners covered. The juxtaposition of this leadership and comfort, with the freshman still finding their way will provide a new frontier to Villanova softball.

Moving forward, the team is focusing on using the fall season to bring some experience and grounding into the spring. Orchard describes these scrimmages and out-of-season games as “educational,” as the players find a sense of self as a Wildcat and up their level of play to the collegiate expectations.

Next weekend, the team will travel to West Point to play Army and St. Peter’s. The development of the team throughout the fall season is sure to be exciting. As previous seasons have shown, Villanova softball is a force to be reckoned with.