Women’s Softball: The Year Of Redemption


Alissa Bikowski (31-left) and Mariah Villanueva (10-right). Photo courtesy of NJCU Athletic Communications.

Charles Villanueva, Contributing Writer

The New Jersey City University women’s softball team is gearing up for a new season, one that will hopefully put last year’s memories behind them.

The 2020-2021 campaign for the Lady Knights was a horrid one. The team ended up with a record of 0-19. The last time the team laced up their cleats was in early May 2021. The game was a part of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament and ended with a gut-wrenching loss to Rutgers-Camden with a score of 2-1. The loss was the conclusion to a season that was filled with troubles for the team.

Sophomore Mariah Villanueva, a Jersey City native and a second-year starter for the team, remembers the season as being “depleted by injuries and COVID-19 protocols; it was tough to deal with. A lot of people had to step up.”

Despite her first season being a tough one, Villanueva is optimistic about her second season and said that the team is in a better space than last season. 

We as a team are extremely excited about the season, over the off-season we have been building team chemistry and participating in a lot of team bonding. We feel like we have been labeled as the underdog of the NJAC and we want to go out and prove them wrong.

— Villanueva

With newfound chemistry and players returning from injuries, the team is hoping to make amends this season. “We have our whole team returning, and we are all looking to make an impact on the field right away,” Villanueva said.

Fifth year coach Ashley Martinez said,This is the most talented group of girls we have had at this program, yes, we have always had one or two really talented players but collectively this year is the year with the most talent, the 0-19 record does show a lot of losses but in the course, we took a lot of wins mentally and helped us prepare for this season. Last year started off rough for us, three of our pitchers started the season on the COVID protocol list, but we put that behind us and the rough season helped us create our team culture, overall, we are in a better place mentally and are hungry to come out and play not only for us but for the community that supports the team.”

Senior Alissa Bikowski, a South Amboy native and starting utility player for the team also spoke about how tough last year was and how the team was ready to turn the page on the past. Bikowski said, “This program is a good one, last year does not define who we are as a team.” When speaking to Bikowski about the last game the team played, she said, “It was a tough loss, which was decided in the 7th inning, we were so close. A lot of us were so emotional after the loss.”

“We are healthier than last year; we got a new strength and conditioning coach who has been working hard making sure that we are prepared for the upcoming season and mentally we feel great, we have done a lot of bonding with each other and getting to know each other on and off the field,” Bikowski added.

The Lady Knights begin their season on March 7 with spring scrimmages. April 2 will be a doubleheader home event and first NJAC conference games. The irony is that the Knights’ first conference games will be against the same team that ended their season last year, Rutgers-Camden.