Cabrini softball’s final season: a bittersweet farewell

By Nathan Mazurek
February 7, 2024

Softball head coach Chris Protesto fist bumps senior pitcher Avery Byrnes.
Softball head coach Chris Protesto fist bumps senior pitcher Avery Byrnes.

As Cabrini University undergoes its final semester, several teams are gearing up for their last season. They face challenges such as low roster numbers and the struggle to stay competitive. The softball team, boasting six Atlantic East Conference Championships, mirrors these difficulties with only 10 players on its roster, leaving minimal room for injuries.

Despite this challenge, the team is determined to work harder and unify to pull off a seventh Atlantic East Conference championship.

“We are more motivated than ever,” said senior shortstop Madison Gugel. “We all know this is our last season, so we all want to come out and have the best season we can. No matter the outcome, we will all know we left everything out on the field. We want to make Cabrini proud one last time.”

Bringing joy to the game

Beyond the competition, the players still emphasize the importance of enjoying their final moments as the last-ever Cabrini softball team. 

Senior outfielder Ariana Mirenda gets ready to make a throw. Photo by Cabrini Athletics

Senior outfielder Ariana Mirenda said, “Going into this season I am trying to have as much fun as I can knowing it’s most of the girls’ last season and the last season ever for Cabrini. This season should be about having fun playing the sport we have all played for our entire lives for the last time.” 

Head Coach Chris Protesto noted the girls’ high spirits despite the adversity. “Carrying 10 players in a sport where you have to start nine is obviously like walking on a tight rope. … But maintaining a positive attitude will not be a problem. You don’t win back-to-back conference titles with players that fall apart in tough situations. These ladies are tough and will be ready.”

Together as one

In rare situations like schools closing, teams tend to unite through adversity. Gugel said, “We have definitely grown closer as a team. The circumstances have given us more motivation because we are the last Cabrini softball team ever. Having 10 girls on the team makes me feel like I have nine older and younger sisters. We bump heads at times, but we care about each other and have a strong bond.” 

Mirenda said, “We have grown closer because we’ve all had to face this and this challenge has created a stronger bond and respect for each other. Because, through all of it, we all stayed together and supported each other.”

These athletes know that the special bond they have will be very hard to find anywhere else. The team aims to savor every remaining moment, recognizing that soon, it will only be a cherished memory.

The legacy

When asked about the legacy they hope to leave, Gugel said, “I hope we are remembered by being a program that fought to be a team one last time. This year hasn’t been easy for any sports program, but we have all banded together and made it our mission to do our best, have fun, and fight hard in the name of Cabrini.”

Mirenda agreed, “As a team I hope to be remembered as one of the best teams the Cabrini program has been a part of in the last couple years and I want to be the team that went out through this hard time and still accomplished a successful season. Personally, I want to be remembered as a good teammate and someone the girls could come to.” 

Senior shortstop Madison Gugel at bat. Photo by Cabrini Athletics

“This team had already made their legacy. It’s been an amazing three years with these girls, and our record proves that,” Protesto said. “This year I am sure we will add to the legacy of this team and program, and we look forward to defending our conference title.”

Cabrini’s defending softball champions are traveling to Florida for their season opener and are set to face Grand Rapids Community College on Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. The game, along with a doubleheader at 1:30 p.m., can be streamed on 

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Nathan Mazurek

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