The Montclair Kimberley Academy softball team will be aiming to bounce back this season, with some experience and increased numbers.

MKA head coach Jessica Sarfati said there was a good crop of players who came out this year to help the depth of the Cougars.

“We are looking forward to a great season,” Sarfati said last week. “We have a really great shot of doing well in our league, and I think it would really help to bring confidence to our program.”

Last season MKA finished with a 6-13-1 record, but the experience plus depth should push the Cougars to compete for the Super Essex Conference Colonial Division title after playing in the Liberty Division in 2021.

The strengths of the team should be on the base paths as well as in part of the infield, in the middle with senior Lara Pramanik and junior Alex Berra, who are co-captains. Berra is solid at shortstop, while Pramanik is slated for second and can also play at third base. 

Berra returns after being named to the All-SEC Liberty Division first team in 2021, where she led the Cougars with hits, 23, and RBI, with 26. “Alex is great,” Sarfati said. “She is one of our captains this year, and she is doing such a great job.  She has such strong leadership skills, and the kids really rely on her positive energy. Alex is a fun player to watch.”

Junior Amara Lerner is a stalwart at first base.

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Montclair Kimberley junior Amara Lerner, shown last year against Montclair, is a stalwart at first base. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

In addition, sophomore Lucy Osterberg, a transfer from Montclair High School, will see time in the middle of the infield.

When you talk about softball, you have to take a close look at the circle.

Last year’s top pitcher was Jackie Tsai, who opted not to come out this season. 

Without Tsai, the Cougars will hand the ball to sophomore Kellen Ievers, who worked in the off-season for this shot. When not in the circle Ievers will be playing in the outfield.

“She has been working hard in the off-season for us, and she has volunteered to try pitching,” the coach said.

Sophomore Elizabeth Lopiccolo and Osterberg will also get a shot in the circle. Lopiccolo was named to the All-SEC Liberty Division honorable mention list in 2021.

One of the top additions to the team is freshman Marin Ievers, Kellen’s sister, behind the plate. “She has the potential to be a strong hitter for us,” Sarfati said.

The top player in the outfield is Lopiccolo, who will see time in left field and center field.  “Ellie is a strong force,” the coach said. “She works so hard every single day in practice.”

The other players patrolling the outfield will include junior Hailey Fouche, sophomore Hunter Levine and senior co-captain Amanda West.

This season the team will be setting up shop at a different field. 

With construction possibly starting this week, MKA is replacing the natural grass with a synthetic turf field at the middle school. The team will be playing at Mountainside Park on Upper Mountain Avenue.