by ANDREW GARDA
for Montclair Local

New head Montclair High School softball coach Mike Goldstein has a young team in a new division, which means the outlook for the 2018 season is a bit of a mystery.

“So, I have no idea what it all means,” Goldstein said with a laugh before a recent scrimmage against Kearny High School. “We’ve never faced a lot of these teams that we’re going to play this year. We’ve never faced Columbia. Or Millburn. So, I don’t know how they are. I don’t know how Belleville is. I know how Glen Ridge and MKA are, but I don’t know how some of the other teams are.”

While Monday’s game against Millburn was snowed out, Goldstein has had his team outside enough between storms to know who is playing where.

The MHS varsity roster is going to carry four freshmen, and a host of sophomores. Despite the youth, Goldstein is undaunted.

“I think it’s a good mix of kids, and they’re working hard,” he said. “They’re all coachable. I’m excited and I’m cautiously optimistic.”

The two freshman starters are pitcher Sydney Masur and first baseman Aliyah Andrews, who is also the second-string pitcher for the team.

Goldstein has high praise for both players, calling Masur a “tremendous soccer player and a talented pitcher” and Andrews a “strong kid with lots of potential.”

Masur will actually be taking up the mantle from her sister, Jessica Masur, who was the Mounties’ starting pitcher last season, but she won’t be living in her sister’s shadow. Masur has some nice heat on her pitches and fields the ball well, so it won’t be hard for her to establish herself as a force in her own right.

While the rest of the starting lineup isn’t as freshman heavy, it’s still young.
Senior Grace Chelius will handle starting duties at second base, though she will be backed up by another freshman, Elizabeth Haefeli.

At shortstop, Goldstein said that he expects great things from junior Frankie Testa.

“She should make All League, All County this year. Terrific player, and she’s a team captain,” said Goldstein.

Watching her against Kearny, that potential was on display, as Testa showed off a cannon on throws to first base and good instincts at the plate.

At third base, Goldstein will look to sophomore Charlotte Carr, who has some experience at the varsity level after playing there last season. Senior Rael Crews will work behind the plate for the Mounties this season.

The outfield will feature sophomore Aliyah Taylor in right field, senior Sofie Fachin in center and sophomore Carly Miller in left field.

“So you can see we have a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, playing with us with a few seniors,” Goldstein said.

That said, Goldstein isn’t settling for just getting by. He expects this team to make the State tournament for the second year in a row after making it for only the second time in the last six years. Once in, he feels this is a team which could win a game.

Goldstein is also building a program though, so he has to balance winning today with winning next year and beyond. That means he is going to make sure lots of players get a chance to get on the field.

“We’re going to try to win every game, but when I have an opportunity to get players in the game who don’t play a lot or start, I’m going to take it,” he said. “I think at this level, you try to win every game but there’s plenty of opportunity over the course of 25 or so games where you can get different kids in. That’s something that, as a parent of three daughters who played softball, I am acutely aware that there are four or five other kids on the bench so when I can get them in, I’m getting them in.”