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Norwood - Local Town Pages

New Coach, Hopefully the Same Results

By Christopher Tremblay
After 61 years involved with softball, 15 years as the Norwood head coach, Carol Savino hung up her cleats last spring and in doing so allowed a new regime to take over in her absence. Although Savino has vacated the head coaching position, her assistant coach Caitlin Nottebart has taken over the reins from her predecessor. 
Nottebart has been involved with the Norwood softball program in some aspect for the past seven years. She made her debut as the freshman coach for the Mustangs. In 2021, she was helping with the varsity squad but the following year she was back as the junior varsity skipper. Last spring, with Savino knowing that she was leaving, Nottebart was elevated to the assistant varsity coach. 
“Carol was a one-of-a-kind individual and she taught me a ton,” the incoming head coach said. “We will continue with all that she has taught me; there will be a lot of reps in practice as these girls basically know what they’re doing.”
According to Norwood Athletic Director Jon Longley, Savino was one of the best coaches at organizing practice and player development, but Nottebart has been with her long enough to continue the Mustang tradition. 
“You learn from the people that you work with,” Longley said. “Caitlin will utilize the things that worked well with Carol as the coach and will change things that best fit her better. Like Carol, she will bring her passion to the game.”
Prior to her leaving, Savino announced this year’s tri-captains at the teams end of year banquet. Leading the Mustangs on the diamond this spring will be the team’s only two seniors in Natalie Gale and Madi Collins, while junior Pauline Cordani will round out the captains. 
Gale, who will be heading to Mass Maritime on the Cape next year to play baseball, will be the team’s first baseman, while Collins will be on the other side of the diamond holding down the hot corner. Cordani is slated to be the Mustangs ace in the circle.
The only position player that is not back with the team due to graduation is Sam Rose, who was the Norwood catcher last season. With Rose gone, the position will be up for grabs between last year’s back-up, Cici Indeck, and incoming freshman Liliana Cordani. 
“It’s going to be a good battle back there between the two,” Nottebart said. “Liliana has caught her sister before and knows her quite well giving her the inside track, but CiCi did really well behind the plate last year.”
As Cordani is looking to be the team’s top hurler this season, the new coach is worried that she’ll have to have a back-up. 
“Pauline is going to be our main pitcher this year, but she may not be able to go every game,” the coach said. “She fatigues easily because she throws so hard, but she took some lessons this past year so hopefully she’ll be stronger than she has in the past.”
Freshman Sarah Randall had herself a good junior varsity season last year and could be the back-up pitcher for Nottebart. However, being so young, the new coach is not sure if she’ll be ready for varsity softball at her age; time will tell.
Other athletes that could find themselves as Cordani’s back-up are Chloe Caravello, who did not play last year but is returning this spring. JV back-up pitcher Emily Shaker is another option for the incoming coach to look at once the season gets underway.
In addition to Gale and Collins batting three and four as the team’s power hitters, Nottebart will rely heavily on shortstop Lizzie Helmar. The center infielder will be the team’s leadoff hitter and look to raise havoc on the base paths. According to the Norwood coach, Helmar will get on base one way or another and being a quick individual it will be hard to get her out once she finds her way onto the bases. 
Kyra Walsh stepped into left field for Norwood last spring and adjusted not only into a decent outfielder, but a power hitter as well.
“She [Kyra] had some bad hitting habits, but after working with Carol she has developed into a good hitter.” the coach said. “I know that she would rather play the infield, but we are pretty much set so she’ll continue to roam the outfield once again.”
Joining Walsh in the outfield will be junior Kaylin Carriero in centerfield and Colleen Denehy will patrol right. CeCe Becker has speed and moves around quite nicely and will see time at one of the corner outfield positions from time to time.
Sophomore Ava Amato will round out the starters playing second base. Although she is still learning the game at the varsity level, she played well for Norwood last year where she batted in the 6th or 7th position in the lineup. While the sophomore is still gaining experience at the plate, she has shown herself to be a good defensive player for the Mustangs.
Once the season gets underway, the first-year head coach definitely has set her goal on making the tournament. Norwood was 10-8 during the regular season last year earning themselves a 28 seed in the Division 2 State Tournament, but unfortunately fell in their first game. 
After making the tournament, Norwood wants to capture the Tri-Valley League Championship once again. Last year, the Mustangs shared the title. This year, they want it outright to themselves. Nottebart wants to have Norwood portrayed as the leaders of the league.
“If we come together as a team and play the way that we are capable, then we’ll be ok.” She said. “We’ve talked about playing as a team and thus far the captains have done a great job getting the team ready to take on the season.”
If she has learned anything from Savino over the last seven years, it is that winning is a big part of Norwood’s softball DNA and accomplishing the team’s goals should not be that big of a problem if the girls go out and play their game.