Alyssa McCoart and Nicole Silva play softball in arguably the toughest division in Rhode Island â the Division I-North circuit â but after next spring, the competitionâs going to get a whole lot tougher for these local senior standouts.
Thatâs because the Lincoln High first baseman/pitcher and Mount St. Charles Academy third baseman, who are very good friends who have known each other since the eighth grade, will be taking their talents to the Division I collegiate level, and they made that official last week by signing National Letters of Intent to their respective schools.
For McCoart, an All-State selection with the Lions last season, her choice wasnât too far from home, nor was it difficult. Sheâs heading to Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn.
âIt feels really good,â McCoart noted of her decision to attend CCSU, where she plans to major in physical education and health promotion. âIâm very happy Iâm going there and Iâm glad to get (the decision) all over with.â
McCoart is coming off a magnificent junior season at the plate and on the mound, where she teamed up with freshman phenom and second-team All-Stater Lindsay Mayer to form one of the premier 1-2 punches in the state.
McCoart batted cleanup and led her team in batting (.417), runs batted in (19), total bases (45), and slugging percentage (.750), and on the mound, she won seven games and posted an earned run average a shade under 1.00. Included in her victories were tough âWâs over playoff-bound foes such as Coventry, Cumberland, Bay View, and North Kingstown.
At CCSU, McCoart expects to exclusively play first base, though she may pitch a couple of innings here and there if the need arises, and she also has a chance to help turn around a team that has struggled in recent seasons in the Northeast Conference, but is looking to turn the corner under new head coach Jeff Franquet.
â(Franquet) seems like he wants to make the program better than it was before,â admitted McCoart, who also played for the Under-18 R.I. Thunder Elite team this past summer. âI liked what he had to say about the team and it just seemed like it would be a good fit for me.â
As for Silva, a four-year standout for the Mounties, her decision also came easily and was something she made before the end of August. She will attend Bucknell University of the Patriot League in Lewisburg, Penn. and major in engineering.
âIâm really excited,â offered Silva. âThat had been my No. 1 (college) since I went to go visit it (last spring). Before that, there were other schools that I really liked, but that one just felt right. There wasnât one thing wrong when I went to go visit it.â
Silva, who also played for the Under-18 R.I. Thunder Gold squad this past summer, will be heading to a team that, under head coach Heather Rakosik, captured the Patriot League championship and qualified for the NCAA Division I tournament last spring.
But by the time Silva arrives in Lewisburg in 2012, she will be counted on to play a vital role on a Bison team that will lose five seniors to graduation. She expects to see action at the corner infield positions.
âWhen I visited Bucknell, the coaching staff made me feel like I was at home there, like I was part of their family,â said Silva. âAll the girls on the team, and just the environment of the campus, just made it feel like home.â
Silva is currently enjoying a fabulous career with the Mounties that started with a strong freshman season that saw her collect 21 hits and bat .333 as a role player and continued with a sensational sophomore year that saw her total 30 hits, bat .612, and earn a spot on the All-State team.
Silva appeared to be on her way to another All-State campaign last year, but she missed half the season with a shoulder injury. But she came back in time to help the Mounties in their run to the Division I finals and ended the year with 22 hits and a .478 average.
âMy shoulder is good now,â acknowledged Silva, who overcame the injury with rest and strengthening exercises. âMy injury ended up being a misplaced disk in my neck that just caused my shoulder to hurt, but Iâm fine now.â