The 2007 Suffolk softball team is coming off a Great Northeast Athletic Conference runner up season and hopes to be right back in the thick of things at the GNAC tournament in April.

Coach Vicki Shull’s team returns six players from last year’s 32-10 team, including Division III second team All-American Jess Ferreira. Ferreira, a sophomore pitcher/ shortstop from Cambridge, MA, hit .428 last season. She will spend more time on the mound this year for the Rams.

“It is a rebuilding year, but offensively, we are really strong,” Coach Vicki Schull said. “We could be stronger this year than last year. Our returning players are hitting the ball well, they have more opportunities now and the new players are contributing. Defensively, we have the potential to be really good. We will live and die by our pitching. We will need to score runs and play defense because our pitchers won’t be dominant.”

Suffolk hopes to continue its strong showing in the GNAC standings. The Rams open their conference schedule the weekend of March 23 with doubleheaders against Johnson & Wales and Norwich at home and a doubleheader at Albertus Magnus. Suffolk begins its season at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Florida on Sunday, March 11. The Rams play 10 games in Florida.

“We have a good schedule in Florida and it will help us get prepared for the regular season,” Schull said. “We still hope to be in the top three in the conference. Our goal is to be in the top three and compete for the GNAC championship.”

In addition to Ferreira on the mound, junior Jenna Mourey will move into the pitching rotation. Mouey, from Rochester, NY, played mostly outfield last year. She is also the 2007 team captain for the Rams.

Joining Ferreira and Mourey on the mound will be sophomore lefthander Rebecca Schalit from Miami, FL. Schalit will share playing time at first base with sophomore Kellie Hurlock (East Lyme, CT). Hurlock will also play in the outfield to take advantage of her speed.

Catching duties will be handled by sophomore Ashley Gaboriault (Sutton, MA) and freshman Erin O’Donnell (Groton, MA).

Sophomore Marie Trainor (Winthrop, MA) and freshman Valerie Liberatore (Chelsea, MA) will play second base for the Rams.

Ferreira will play short stop when she is not pitching and Gaboriault (Sutton, MA) will take the position when Ferreira is pitching. Sophomore Rebecca Barnett (Hull, MA) will play third base.

Outfielders include Mourey, sophomore Rachel Misuraca (Gloucester, MA) and sophomore Kayleigh Champigny (Warwick, RI).