FAIRFIELD >> The Fairfield Ludlowe softball team was in search of a new coach this past offseason.
At the same time, Shari Paci was still on the lookout for her first head coaching position in the FCIAC.
Both seeking change and something new, their paths eventually crossed.
Paci applied and got the job last winter.
And so far this spring, it’s been a good fit.
“It’s been different, really different, but a good different,” Ludlowe senior co-captain Brenna Martini said. “I think we needed some change. Coach Paci is definitely different than what we’re used to.”
For starters, Paci, who replaces Tony Samuelian, has brought in a wealth of knowledge of the game and experience.
A graduate of Trumbull High, she went on to play at Eastern Connecticut. She had a highly successful four-year stint at Eastern where she pitched and played infield. Most recently, she’s coached softball at Stamford, where she teaches, and coaches Xplosion softball in the summer.
“This actually worked out to be a perfect fit,” Paci said. “What an awesome group of kids. They really work hard, they listen, they want to win and they want to play to the best of their ability.”
Paci’s also instilled a rigorous, but needed practice change. The players say there’s more running, a lot more, but it’s gotten easier.
“I think her being closer to our age and playing college softball definitely helps,” senior co-captain Gillian Kennedy said. “She prepares us more for what we’re going to see in games. Practices are more intense, I think we needed that.”
Paci’s coaching philosophy is based on team work. She stressed there are always individual points in the game, but nothing gets accomplished unless everyone is united.
The girls said one of the things missing from last year was that closeness.
“I think this year we have a lot more team chemistry,” senior co-captain Colleen Lambert said.
Paci inherits a senior heavy and talented squad that finished last season at 16-8 and lost in the second round of the Class LL Tournament.
The Falcons graduated just two players and return almost the entire infield and outfield. Led by Martini at third base, who is committed to Adelphi, the Falcons have the potential to be one of the best defensive teams in the conference.
Kennedy, Lambert, Alice Nelson and Nicky Tygesen are just a handful of names who will be key for Ludlowe this season.
Paci mentioned depth being one area of concern, with just 13 players, but she feels like they have the right fit.
On the mound Paci said they will utilize both junior Brigette Anderson and freshman Brittany Romero as junior Katie DeCarlo returns behind the plate.
The Falcons open up the season on April 9 at home against Stamford and then host 2013 FCIAC champion New Canaan on April 10.
“I can’t wait to play New Canaan,” Martini said. “It was definitely not our best game (last season) and we just want to have another crack at them.”